Orlando City SC completed a deal to acquire Nani on Monday, signing the decorated Portuguese winger to a Designated Player contract after a free transfer from his previous club Sporting CP. The forward has signed a three-year contract with the Lions.
“This is an exciting day for our organisation,” said Orlando City SC EVP of soccer operations Luiz Muzzi in a statement. “Nani brings tremendous experience to our roster. He’s a dynamic winger with quality abilities to move and cross the ball, impact games and lead the offensive play.”
One of the most talented wingers of his generation, Nani (full name Luis Carlos Almeida da Cunha) carries a glittering resume to Orlando. The 32-year-old won four English Premier League titles and the 2008 UEFA Champions League at Manchester United, two Taça de Portugal (Portuguese Cup) titles at Sporting and helped Portugal win the European Championship for the first time in 2016.
Blessed with both quickness and trickery on the ball, capable of playing multiple attacking roles, he represents a promising new weapon for Lions coach James O’Connor as Orlando seek to reverse their fortunes following a woeful 2018 season.
Nani has been something of a nomad since leaving Manchester to rejoin Sporting, his first top-flight club. In the years since, he’s also played for Turkish side Fenerbahce, Spain’s Valencia and briefly went on loan to Lazio in Italy.
At the international level, Nani has been a mainstay for Portugal throughout the years. In total the winger has made 112 appearances, scoring 24 goals. Nani played a critical role that saw Portugal claim the UEFA Euro 2016 final. Nani played the entire match in the 2016 final, in a contest that saw Portugal defeat France 1-0 after 120 minutes.
His arrival in Orlando makes for four DPs on the clubs’ books, alongside Josue Colman, Dom Dwyer and Sacha Kljestan. One of those incumbents will likely have to be “bought down” with Targeted Allocation Money in order to remove their DP tag.