Jumat, 31 Agustus 2012

The definitive list of Champions League Group G fixtures

Messi after sealing his penalty in spanish supercup( barcelona-real madrid)

Tottenham target M'Vila to stay with Rennes, says chairman Frederic de Saint-Sernin

Yann M'Vila
Tottenham's pursuit of Yann M'Vila has come to abrupt end after Rennes chairman Frederic de Saint-Sernin claimed that the French international would not move to England during the current transfer window.

The midfielder had been attracting interest from both Spurs and Arsenal but it seems that if the midfielder is to leave France it will only be to a club in Eastern Europe.

Speaking to RMC, a French Radio Station, Saint-Sernin said: "He will not go to England. Tottenham came back with an offer yesterday at 19.30 but we are 95% sure that he will stay with us.

"He will only leave if a Russian or Ukrainian club makes a proposition [that meets our valuation of the player]".

The definitive list of Champions League Group C fixtures

Robinho - Milan

Hiddink: I've had enough of playing Dutch clubs

Guus Hiddink, Anzhi Makhachkala
Following victories against AZ Alkmaar and Vitesse Arnhem in their Europa League qualifying matches, Anzhi Makhachkala boss Guus Hiddink is hoping to avoid drawing a Dutch side in the tournament's group stages.

The mega-rich Russian side enjoyed a 5-0 away win over AZ last night, winning 6-0 on aggregate after a tightly contested first leg and also beat Vitesse 4-0 on aggregate earlier in qualification.

When questioned as to whether he would like to face the other remaining Dutch team in the Europa League, PSV Eindhoven, Hiddink seemed to prefer the idea of avoiding them.

"I've had enough of all of the Dutch teams for now. They won't let me cross the border if we go on like this," joked the Anzhi boss, speaking to AD.nl.

Anzhi and Hiddink don't have long to wait to discover their European fate, as the Europa League group stage draw will be made today.

Champions League draw: Paris Saint-Germain in Pot 3, Manchester City in Pot 2 and more...

Champions League draw (Getty Images)
The Champions League group stage draw will take place at 17:45CET on Thursday August 30 2012, LIVE right here on Goal.com. Here we discover just who could face whom as Europe's premier club competition gets into full swing...

How it works

The 32 qualifiers have been divided into four pots based on the Uefa coefficients, which are in turn determined by a mixture of the team's own performance in Europe over the past five seasons, as well as the strength of their country's league.

The Champions League group stage comprises eight pools of four teams: consequently, a team from each pot is drawn and placed into one of the eight groups available. This is done by pot and not "one at a time": that is to say, all the teams from pot one will be placed into a group, and then pot two, and so on down to the fourth and final pot.

There are some restrictions, though. Teams from the same national association cannot be drawn together, and even prior to that there will be two 'sets' of groups decided for the purpose of television rights. For example, the four teams from Spain cannot all be drawn in the same set.


The Champions League Group Stage pots for 2012-13 are as follows:

Kamis, 30 Agustus 2012

Real Madrid to face Man City, Dortmund & Ajax in Champions League group stage

Real Madrid have been drawn against Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax in the group stage of the 2012-13 Champions League.

The four teams are all champions of their respective countries, but were eligible to face one another due to their differing seeds, and make up this year's 'Group of Death'.

Jose Mourinho's side's fierce rivals Barcelona will face a daunting trip to Russia to play against Spartak Moscow, and have also been drawn against Benfica and Celtic.

Elsewhere, current holders Chelsea take on Scudetto winners Juventus, and also face a tough trip to Ukraine to face Shakhtar. The trio have been drawn alongside Danish minnows Nordsjaelland.

Beaten finalists from last season, Bayern Munich, face a re-match of their victorious 2001 Champions League final against Valencia, and will also have to contend with Lille and BATE.

Just as they were last year, Arsenal have been drawn alongside Olympiakos, and Germa n opposition, Schalke, while the Gunners' summer signing Olivier Giroud will have a swift homecoming to Montpellier.

Big spenders Paris Saint-Germain have been handed a favourable draw alonside Porto, Dynamo Kiev and Dinamo Zagreb in Group A, while Manchester United will look to avoid a reapeat of last season's humiliating early exit when they take on Braga, Galatasaray and Cluj.

Finally, AC Milan, who were eliminated by Barcelona in the quarter-final last season, will face Zenit St Petersburg, Anderlecht and Malaga.

AC Milan draw Zenit, Anderlecht & Malaga in Champions League Group C

Kris Voakes, Italian Football Writer

"Milan will be happy enough with their draw in Group C, having avoided the kind of draw that Real Madrid were landed with. Zenit will be seen as one of the favourable picks from Pot Two, despite the lengthy trip they will face to play Luciano Spalletti's men, while Anderlecht will not spell too much fear for the Rossoneri, who saw off the Belgians home and away on the road to victory in Athens in 2007. Malaga are obviously a danger from Pot Four, but with a lack of Champions League experience, it is hard to say exactly how those two games will pan out."

European giants descend on Monaco for Champions League draw

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Following the conclusion of the Champions League play-offs on Wednesday evening, all 32 teams that will take part in the group stage of European club football's elite competition are now known, and they will be desperate to find out who they will be pitted against during Thursday evening's draw in Monaco.

The draw, which is scheduled to start at 17:45CET, will feature an impressive 12 previous winners of the competition, as well as three teams making their debut at the highest level.

All of the top seeded teams except Arsenal have lifted the trophy on at least one occasion, and Manchester United are even making a record 18th appearance in the 21st edition of the Champions League. Meanwhile, Montpellier, Nordsjaelland and Malaga are all set to make their bow in the tournament.

Their status as rookies does not mean that these teams go into the competition without ambition, though, as was illustrated by Boquerones winger Joaquin 's words.

"As for the group stage draw, we know that all rivals will be tough but we have qualified and are determined to enjoy the competition and go as far as we can," the Spaniard remarked.

Of the 32 teams that featured in last year's edition of the competition, 20 have once again managed to reach the group stages this term.

Goal.com will bring you all the coverage you need as we find out how the group stages in Europes elite club competition will look between now and December.

Click here to follow all the coverage of the draw, which will take place from 17:00BST on Thursday.

Rabu, 29 Agustus 2012

Champions League play-off results: Dynamo Kiev, Spartak survive scares as Celtic, Cluj ease into group stage draw

Champions League - FC Copehagen - Lille OS

Follow the Champions League draw LIVE! with Goal.com

UEFA Champions League
It is that time of the year again and the draw for the Champions League is almost upon us.

Goal.com will bring you all the coverage you need as we find out how the group stages in Europes elite club competition will look between now and December.

Our LIVE! blog will be running from Thursday morning and is set to take you through all the build-up, the draw as it happens and extensive reaction, including exclusive contributions from our team experts.

Click here to follow all the coverage of the draw, which will take place from 17:00BST on Thursday.

Who will holders Chelsea draw as they look to be the first side to successful retain the competition in its current form? How about fellow English sides Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City?

Which sides will face daunting home and away ties against Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid? Teams will also be hoping to avoid Juv entus, who look to be Serie As best chance of success, while Bayern Munich and PSG are also lurking in the draw.

Goal.com is the only place you need for full coverage of the Champions League draw, follow it all LIVE! on Thursday and look out for all our news and features before and after the event.

Senin, 27 Agustus 2012

Heldt confirms Zenit bid for Papadopoulos

FC Schalke 04, Kyriakos Papadopoulos
Schalke could be set to lose their brightest defensive prospect this summer, to the ambitious Russian Champions Zenit St Petersburg, who are said to have tabled an offer of 13m for Kyriakos Papadopoulos' services.

The 20-year-old has gained many admirers during his performances for Schalke, becoming a fan favourite along the way and also impressed whilst on international duty for Greece during Euro 2012.

"Zenit have contacted me," admitted Schalke general manager Horst Heldt.

"There is an offer, but whether it amounts to 13 million I cannot confirm."

Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti has already shown his intentions during this transfer window, stating his interest in Hulk, Nani and Ibrahim Afellay, but now looks to be attempting to add the young Greek player to his ranks too.

The Royal Blues won't be willing to let him leave easily but the Schalke chief believes Zenit have a strong desire to land th e player.

"It's true, that they are interested and have made an offer. We don't want to let go of the player, but they are rather determined. So are we, though," Heldt insisted.

Russia goalkeeper Malafeev announces retirement from international football

Euro 2008 Qualifier: Russia-Macedonia 3-0: Mitreski vs Malafeev (Sport-Express)
Russia goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev has announced his retirement from international football.

In a statement on the Russian Football Union (RFU)'s website, the Zenit St Petersburg No.1 cited a need to dedicate more time to his two children as the primary reason behind his decision.

"It was a difficult decision to stop my international career from both a professional and human point of view," said Malafeev.

"But it's the only correct decision for my family."

Malafeev has been raising his two children alone since March 2011 when his wife Marina died in a tragic car accident.

The 33-year-old has amassed 28 appearances for the national team and has played in the last three European Championships.

Samuel Etoo and Achille Emana return to Cameroons 23-man squad against Cape Verde

 FIFA World Cup 2010 - Cameroon vs Denmark, Samuel Eto'o (Getty Images)
Cameroon coach Denis Lavagne has named a 23-man squad for the upcoming 2013 Africa Cup of Nations last round qualifier match against Cape Verde.

The fixture has been scheduled for September 8.

Anzhi Makhachkalas Samuel Eto'o Fils and Achille Emana are making their comeback in the national team after eight months out due to personal problems with the countrys FA.

The Al-Ali (United Arab Emirates) player last represented the national team at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Full squad:

Sabtu, 25 Agustus 2012

Champions League play-off draw: Malaga meet Panathinaikos, Udinese face Braga test

Champions League trophy (Getty Images)
Udinese will meet Braga in the 2012-13 Champions League play-offsfollowing Friday's draw in Nyon.

In the other four fixtures via the league route, Borussia Monchengladbach take on Dynamo Kiev, while Malaga face Panathinaikos.

Furthermore, Russian giants Spartak Moscow will have to deal with Fenerbahce and 2010-11 Ligue 1 champions Lille await a tie versus Copenhagen.

In the champions route, SPL winners Celtic will face Swedish side Helsingborgs, while Belgian powerhouse Anderlecht meet Cypriot titleholders AEL Limassol.

The first legs of the ties will be played on August 21-22, with the return taking place one week later on August 28-29.

Jumat, 24 Agustus 2012

Valencia want Nelson Valdez from Rubin Kazan - report

Nelson Haedo Valdez, Hercules (Getty Images)
Valencia are hoping to secure a return to Spanish football for Rubin Kazan striker Nelson Valdez in the coming week, reports Marca.

According to the report, the Paraguayan striker has already agreed to join the club with Los Che sporting director Braulio Vazquez, but a fee for the transfer is yet to be finalised.

Valencia are willing to pay up to 2.5m for Valdez, but this could prove a stumbling block as the Russian outfit shelled out double that price to take him from Hercules one year ago.

Valdez has been deemed surplus to requirements following the arrival of Salomon Rondon in Kazan, and the 28-year-old and may well be heading out of the club.

The Spanish side are hopeful of completing a deal before their opening game of the new Liga season against Real Madrid next weekend.

According to the Spanish sports daily, Valencia are also actively searching for a new left-back to replace Jordi Alba, wh o departed for Barcelona in June.

Capello determined to win back Russian fans after Euro 2012 'insult'

Fabio Capello
Russia coach Fabio Capello says his priority is to win back the country's support after an "insulting" European Championship campaign.

The Sbornaya were unable to progress from a group with Poland, Greece and Czech Republic, and the newly-appointed boss, who replaced Dick Advocaat last month, is ready to help the side get back on track again.

"I am very proud as it is a big honour for me to be here and to work with a strong national side," Capello told the official Uefa website.

"The main thing we have to achieve now is to win back the support of Russian fans who feel insulted after Euro 2012.

"The key element is mutual respect between everybody who works with the team, between every member of the squad.

"Nobody will have any privileges. We are all friends here, we are equals. To get results we must work for the team."

Russia meet Cote d'Ivoire in their first game under Capello on Wednesday.

Russia encouraged as Capello shows willingness to give youth a chance

Fabio Capello

By Marcus Haydon

Fabio Capello's appointment as the new coach of Russia was heralded as a critical moment for the country's football. With failure at the recent European Championship still fresh in the mind, the Italian's arrival is expected to spark a refreshment of the squad as it bids for a place at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.

In the build-up to his first game in charge, a friendly against Cote D'Ivoire in Moscow this Wednesday, the Russian public were eager to see the extent of the changes in his first squad selection. The answer, in typical Capello style, was firm but modest.

There are no swathing changes, with the only controversial absentee being Yuri Zhirkov, who, rumours suggest, may have been omitted following a request from his club Anzhi Makhachkala relating to a recent injury. That excuse does s eem tenuous, though, when you consider that Zhirkov completed a full game for Anzhi against CSKA Moscow on Sunday afternoon.

Using your head The Euros did not exactly go to plan for Arshavin, who hit out at fans

Zhirkov apart, the only major changes have been due to age. Konstantin Zyryanov and Igor Semshov stalwarts of the Guus Hiddink and Dick Advocaat regimes will be 36 years old come the next World Cup and have accordingly been left out. The team's captain, Andrey Arshavin, has retained his spot for now, but the question of whether or not the Arsenal attacker will keep the armband remains unanswered.

It is believed that Capello recently flew to Germany, where Arsenal were preparing for a friendly match with Koln, esp ecially to speak to the player in person. Arshavin's status has been severely dented by the disrespectful comments he made about Russia supporters following the side's premature exit from the Euros.

The reaction to the squad announcement has been one of quiet optimism, albeit with many waiting to see whether Capello will give the new recruits opportunities to break into the side. Wednesday's friendly is their only preparation for the World Cup qualifiers against Northern Ireland and Israel in early September, meaning that the temptation to retain the tried and tested senior players will be very strong. The Russian public's patience for such a status-quo has, however, been exhausted by the failures of 2010 and 2012."Slightly rejuvenated" was Sovetsky Sport's verdict on Capellos maiden squad, pointing out that the Italian has lowered the average age of the list from 28.35 (under Advocaat at Euro 2012) to 26.96. A marked injection of youth has come in defence, w here CSKA Moscow's Georgi Shennikov and Lokomotiv pairing Taras Burlak and Andrey Eschenko have been included alongside the familiar names of the Berezutsky brothers, Aleksandr Anyukov and Sergei Ignashevich. Capello also found space for Lokomotiv's mobile 19-year-old midfielder Magomed Ozdoyev, who has impressed at club level over the last year.

In terms of potential stylistic changes, there has been a clear shift in the number of orthodox wide midfielders included, with Vladimir Bystrov, Victor Fayzulin and Alexander Samedov all selected. At club level, all three tend to stay very wide, looking to provide penetration and deliveries from those areas. Since Hiddink's appointment in 2006 (and particularly under Advocaat), Russia have tended to stay quite narrow in the final third, with the wide attackers coming inside and the width provided by Anyukov and Zhirkov from full-back. The fatigue evident in these two during the European Championship has per haps influenced Capello's plans.

Huge challenges lie ahead for Russia's new coach, who has inherited an aging team with poor links to the country's national youth set-up. But, for many, simply the fact that he is prepared to give some new blood a chance already places him a rung above his predecessor Advocaat.

Valencia announce deal for Haedo Valdez

Nelson Valdez, Kazan
Valencia have announced that they have reached an agreement with Rubin Kazan over the transfer of striker Nelson Haedo Valdez.

The Paraguayan left La Liga a year ago, but after an ineffective season in the Russian Premier League he has made a swift return to Spain.

Sporting director Braulio Vazquez was delighted to have struck a deal for the 28-year-old, who had previously represented Borussia Dortmund and Werder Bremen.

"It has been expensive for us to seal this deal because Nelson is a very popular player at Rubin," he told the club's official website.

"For us he's a very important player and will complement the strikers that we already have. Nelson has strength, will and speed, and will also bring goals.

"We have great confidence in him."

Kamis, 23 Agustus 2012

Official: Moussa Konate joins Kuban Krasnodar

Senegal Olympic star Moussa Konate has joined Kuban Krasnodar on a three-year contract after the club agreed a 2 million deal with his current employers Maccabi Tel-Aviv.

The 19-year-old forward burst into the limelight when he excelled at the London Olympics, scoring five goals in four matches before Senegal were defeated in the quarter-finals to eventual winners Mexico.

His performances earned him Goal.com's World Player of the Week award in July and a move abroad, and the Israeli outfit were quick to thank the player for his contributions.

"We thank Moussa for his services and wish him to continue his good form from the Olympics," a statement on the club's official read.

Krasnodar currently sit in 10th place in the Russian Premier League, having accumulated six points from five games.

Honda: If Lazio approached me I wouldn't go

Keisuke Honda - Japan v Australia
Keisuke Honda has insisted that he has no intention to leave CSKA Moscow for Lazio at this point of his career.

The Japan international was believed to be on his way to the Serie A side in the January transfer window, but the move eventually never materialised.

Lazio have not shown concrete interest in signing the midfielder since January, and Honda has stressed that they need not bother, as he feels the Italian side are not the right next step for him.

"Right now I can't say anything about a transfer. But in considering what I want in my future, the image I had at 20 is different from the one I have at 26. My end goal hasn't changed. All I can say is that even if Lazio approached me, I wouldn't go," Honda stated to Nikkan.
"Initially I'd planned on showing off my skills at the World Cup and leaving Russia after half a year, but since then two years have passed.

"It's like running 30 kilometres in a marathon to find out that you're off your pace. If you're running behind, you might look for a different path to take. If I hop on a car the rest of the way, I'll still struggle to reach my goal. If my pace is slow, I have to run faster. And in that respect I won't go to Lazio."

Honda has a contract with CSKA Moscow until December 2013.

Spalletti: Zenit interested in signing Afellay, Hulk & Nani

Ibrahim Afellay for Barcelona
Luciano Spalletti has confirmed that Zenit St Petersburg are interested in signing Porto star Hulk, Manchester United winger Nani and Barcelona attacker Ibrahim Afellay.

The Russian champions are desperate to add to their ranks this summer in order to be competitive in the Champions League, and they are not afraid to aim high.

"Are we interested in Hulk and Nani? Yes we are," Spalletti stated at a press conference.

"Everything's going to depend on how much they cost.

"There are three more players who we're holding negotiations with besides Nani and Hulk, but I won't name them.

"But if you want one more name, it's Afellay."

Zenit are currently preparing for the away game against Anzhi Makhachkala.

Petrescu named new Dinamo Moscow coach

Dan Petrescu - Unirea Urziceni (Getty Images)
Dinamo Moscow have confirmed on their official website that they have appointed Dan Petrescu as their new head coach. The former Chelsea star has inked a three-year deal with his new club.

The Russian outfit were in the market for a new coach following the departure of Sergei Silkin earlier this month, and they have now found their man in the form of Petrescu.

The 44-year-old resigned from his post at Kuban Krasnodar on Tuesday, and has not wasted any time to find himself a new challenge.

Petrescu started his coaching career with Rapid Bucharest and was also in charge of Wisla Krakow and Unirea Urziceni before taking the reins at Kuban in December 2009.

Dinamo currently sit last in the Russian league table with four losses from as many games.

Vote for your Goal.com World Player of the Week

World Player of the Week
Goal.com World Player of the Week is our prestigious weekly accolade, awarded to the individual whose performances across the previous seven days are worthy of acclaim. Each Monday at 13:00CET, our worldwide team of editors put forward a candidate worthy of the title, and this is YOUR opportunity to influence our decision.

Simply leave a comment below between 10:00CET every Sunday and 11:00CET every Monday with the name of your winner, and the reasons for your nomination. Alternatively, you can post a message via social media on either Goal.com's Facebook or Twitter pages.

In addition to the victor, we highlight a number of honourable mentions who just missed out on the top prize. It does not have to be a Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi - any star of the global game that you feel deserves recognition, let us know, and the best comments, messages or tweets will be included when our winner i s announced on Goal.com.

Last week's winner was Oribe Peralta, who helped Mexico reach the Olympic final with a goal over Japan in the last four, then led his country to an unlikely gold medal with two goals against Brazil, and saw off competition from the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Kwadwo Asamoah and Rodney Sneijder to land the accolade.

Who is your World Player of the Week this week? Get involved!

Rabu, 22 Agustus 2012

Champions League Play-off Results: Gladbach & Lille slip to surprise defeats

Trofeo Champions League

Spalletti confirms Zenit interest in Afellay

Ibrahim Afellay - FC Barcelona
Zenit St Petersburg coach Luciano Spalletti has confirmed that he is interested in a move for Barcelona winger Ibrahim Afellay.

The Netherlands international has struggled with injuries and form since moving to Camp Nou from PSV in January 2011.

The 26-year-old emerged as a transfer target for the likes of Arsenal and Inter earlier this summer, but Spalletti is still hoping to bring Afellay to Russia.

"My transfer targets? Afellay is definitely on the list, but we have only enquired about availability and not made a bid," Spalletti explained when speaking to Zenit's official website.

"If Barcelona or the player himself do not want to negotiate our interest will end."

After an unbeaten start to the Russian Premier League season, Spalletti will be aiming to strengthen his squad with the signing of Afellay, as he looks to lead the Russian giants to their third successive league crown.

Manchester City legend Kinkladze central to Zenit's Nani pursuit

EPL - Manchester United v Arsenal, Nani
By Wayne Veysey Chief Correspondent

Manchester City legend Georgi Kinkladze is a central figure in Zenit St Petersburgs shock bid to prise Nani from Manchester United in the next nine days.

Kinkladze, who retains hero status among City supporters for his performances during a three-year spell in the mid-1990s when the club lived in the shadow of their wealthier and more glamorous neighbours, is now a Moscow-based football agent and has close connections to Russias noveau riche clubs.

Sources have told Goal.comthat Kinkladze is working closely with Zenit and England-based intermediaries to take Nani to St Petersburg in what would be a sensational move.

Kinkladze was the sporting director of Cypriot club Anorthosis for 10 months before leaving in June and has now re-assumed agent duties.

The 39-year-old Georgian, who ended his playing career at Russian club Rubin Kazan in 2006, is well connected, speaks English and has close links to movers and shakers in Manchester and London.

Zenit went public with their desire to sign Nani last Friday, with manager Luciano Spalletti revealing that contact has been made with United over the Portugese winger.

The winners of two consecutive Russian league titles already count Nanis national team colleague Bruno Alves in their ranks and have the ambition and resources to make an impact in the Champions League.

Despite denials from Old Trafford that Nani will be sold, it is understood that Sir Alex Ferguson is giving serious consideration to cashing in on the Portugese winger although he will not have appreciated Spalletti publicly confirming Zenits interest.

Ferguson has strengthened his attacking options by signing Robin van Persie, Shinji Kagawa and Nick Powell this summer, which could be ominous for Nani or Ashley Young.

Although Nani started the 1-0 defeat to Everton on Monday, it was unlikely he would have done so had a defensive crisis not forced Antonio Valencia to be deployed at right-back.

Despite being a key creator and goalscorer for United in the three seasons that followed Cristiano Ronaldos departure to Real Madrid, Nani has frustrated Ferguson with his inconsistency.

A stalemate in talks over a new contract has yet to be resolved, which is a growing concern at Old Trafford given that his current deal only has two years to run.

Zenit have not made a formal offer for the Portugese but may be prepared to start the bidding at around the 20 million mark.

The Russian club are keen to bolster their ranks this summer to maintain their status as top guns in their homeland and be competitive in the Champions League.

Speaking last Friday, Spalletti spelled out his interest in Nani as well as Porto winger Hulk and Barcelona attacker Ibrahim Afellay.

Are we interested in Hulk and Nani? Yes we are, Spalletti said. Everything's going to depend on how much they cost.

There are three more players who we're holding negotiations with besides Nani and Hulk, but I won't name them. But if you want one more name, it's Afellay.

Follow Wayne Veysey on

Selling Nani could be the ultimate balancing act for Manchester United's top-heavy squad

EPL - Queens Park Rangers v Manchester United, Nani
By Jonathan Birchall

Incredible one week, appalling the next; nobody does unplayable quite like Nani.

The personification of Manchester United's unmatchable peaks and damaging troughs last season, the Portuguese is consistently Old Trafford's Mr Inconsistent. As such, Zenit St Petersburg's interest and potential big-money bid for the winger, like Nani himself, brings with it a headache for Sir Alex Ferguson.

After all, this is a player who had the joint-highest combined goals and assists record in the Premier League two seasons ago, with nine and a remarkable 18 respectively, as well as scoring eight and assisting 10 in 2011-12.

Four months ago today, as United drew 4-4 with Everton in one of, if not the defining match of last season's Premier League title race, Nani showed such ruthlessness. With a goal, two assists and a destructive performance against Tony Hibbert, the 25-year-old was at hi s devastating, though too infrequent best.

Yet on Monday, against Hibbert again and at the other end of the East Lancs Road, the Everton full-back got his revenge.

Substituted for Ashley Young after 77 largely excruciating minutes, Nani was a shadow of the player who so impressed at the Theatre of Dreams in April, and again for Portugal at Euro 2012. Attempting eight crosses without a single one finding their intended target, such are the frustrations that come with the winger.

It is five years since the Cape Verde-born man moved to Manchester from Sporting's prolific academy in Alcochete, travelling with the unfair and frankly ridiculous millstone of being 'the next Cristiano Ronaldo' and although there have been undoubted improvements, decision time on Nani is, you sense, fast approaching.

With less than two years until the end of his contract, Nani has already gone public over his future at the club, admitting in June th at his agent Jorge Mendes, the man who brought the 25-year-old to Manchester United, along with Ronaldo, Anderson and Bebe, was in talks with Old Trafford officials over a new contract. Two months on and there is little to suggest that the 125,000-a-week contract he craves is any closer to being sanctioned.

"I am really happy but I don't know about my future," he told RTP. "Now I will study opportunities. Football is not only about England or Spain. It is possible to enjoy success in other countries."

Financially, a sale of anything upwards of 20m would make sense for United. Recouping the majority, if not all of the fee paid out for Robin van Persie would potentially clear funds for the combative midfielder the club still obviously requires more than anything else.

Indeed, Glazernomics and its effect on United's strength in the transfer market remains at best a guessing game, but without any lucrative departures so far this summer , coupled with the arrivals of Robin van Persie, Shinji Kagawa, Nick Powell, Alexander Buttner and, as of Tuesday night, Angelo Henriquez, the Old Trafford outfit will be spending around 40m net this year - close to the largest outlay in the club's history. A quality addition to central midfield would be unlikely.

Accruing a large fee for Nani would see the club bring in double figures from a player sale for only the third time under the Glazer ownership, following the exits of Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ronaldo to Real Madrid in 2006 and 2009 respectively.

With over 50m spent on potentially crippling interest repayments in the year ending June 2011, the temptation to cash in will be great. Needs must after all.

Beyond the opportunity to raise capital, be it reinvested or not, the acquisitions of Van Persie and Kagawa in particular raise the question of where Nani fits in to United's starting XI from here. To include both alongside Wayne Roo ney and Danny Welbeck would leave no room for a static 4-4-2.

With Antonio Valencia a near-surefire starter, Nani's opportunities are surely going to lessen in 2012-13. For United, whose vastly top-heavy squad was exposed at Goodison Park with Michael Carrick forced into defence, leaving him missed in midfield, selling the Portuguese and replacing him elsewhere could prove the ultimate balancing act, for the books and the squad.

"I can have a spectacular game but nobody guarantees me I will be starting the next match. It shatters your confidence," said the winger to I in 2009. "People expect more from me and it's not easy."

Three years on and United are still waiting for more. Nani may often be unplayable, but he's by no means unsellable.

Follow Jonathan Birchall on