SINGAPORE // Nani, the Manchester United winger, has no plans to leave the English champions following the signing of Ashley Young last week and said on Monday that he welcomed the competition for a place in the starting line-up at Old Trafford.
Nani, who did not start the Champions League final defeat to Barcelona last month, had been linked with a move away from Old Trafford by British media reports but the Portuguese international said he was looking forward to meeting his new teammate.
"Of course I have to welcome everyone they sign, I think Man Utd is a fantastic club. When they bring in new players, they know if it is good for the team or not, and this [Young signing] has to help them," Nani said in the suite of his hotel in Singapore.
"It is good for the team, we want more [players] to help us to win trophies," added Nani.
The 24-year-old explained that his experiences competing with the world's most expensive player, Cristiano Ronaldo, for a place in the Portugal team and previously in the United first team meant he was not concerned by the prospect of reduced appearances following Young's arrival.
"I've been there [at United] when Cristiano was there, Cristiano was one of the best players in the world. At that moment [I had no] worries about him [taking my place]," Nani said of the player who joined Real Madrid in 2009.
Nani began last season in scintillating form before tailing off and losing his place in the side to Antonio Valencia for the 3-1 defeat by Barcelona in the Champions League final last month.
The former South Korean international Park Ji-sung also started the Wembley final on the flank ahead of Nani.
“It was boring because you want to play, everyone wants to play,” Nani said. “The finals are for playing but the manager makes the decision and he knows who is better for the team and I have to respect that.”
He did, however, come on for the last 20 minutes to replace the Brazilian defender Fabio and witnessed first-hand the level that United need to reach if they are to lift the European title for a fourth time.
“[Barcelona] are the best team,” he said. “They are not unbeatable, maybe a different game we can beat them, you never know. A game is a game and you never know what is going to happen.”
Nani, relaxing in flip flops and shorts after enjoying a few days rest in Singapore, acknowledged that tiredness may have been a factor in manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to drop him for the final.
“Last season I played more games [in a season] than ever at Man Utd, that’s why maybe in the last games I didn’t look the same as in the first games.
“Now I’m on holiday for some rest, get my power back, at the start of the season I will be fine to start strong again, start to do what I know.”
Nani said he was also looking forward to Twitter-teasing his teammate and England striker Wayne Rooney, who has had a recent hair transplant to counteract baldness.
“I will see and then after I will write something,” he laughed when asked if he would join the United captain Rio Ferdinand in poking fun at Rooney.
Young’s arrival last week from Aston Villa for a fee of around £20 million (Dh117.5m) had left question marks over Nani’s future at Old Trafford, with the British media suggesting he may be forced to depart the Premier League champions.
But Nani, 24, said he was looking forward to meeting his new teammate and has no plans to quit Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.
“Of course I have to welcome everyone they sign, I think Man United is a fantastic club,” he said from the suite of his hotel in Singapore. “When they bring in new players, they know if it is good for the team or not ... It is good for the team, we want more [players] to help us to win trophies.”
Nani was also in the south-east Asian city state to help promote the Peter Lim Scholarship scheme for the Singapore Olympic Foundation.
Lim, who failed in his bid to buy United’s arch-rivals Liverpool last year and who owns a number of United supporter cafes in Singapore, invited Nani to talk to schoolchildren about his difficult upbringing in the Cape Verde Islands, where money was tight and luxuries unheard of, and the hard work needed to reach the top.