Nani's Transfer a Significant Coup for Orlando City and the MLS
2018 was an extremely forgettable year for Orlando City, with the Florida-based franchise winning just eight of their 34 regular season fixtures. Former Burnley and Sheffield Wednesday player James O'Connor has attempted to steady the ship over the last few months, and he looks to have pulled off a huge transfer coup with the addition of Luis Nani. The playmaker could be the key to reviving the club's fortunes in 2019, and his arrival is also a huge boost for the MLS.
Nani signed a three-year deal at Orlando City and the 32-year-old brings plenty of experience to the squad. The playmaker has spent time at Manchester United, Valencia, Fenerbahce and most recently, Sporting CP. His recent spell in Portugal saw him score nine goals and claim seven assists despite not always being a regular starter.
His arrival has given the fans a huge lift ahead of the forthcoming campaign, and they'll be hoping for a significant improvement from the Lions in 2019. Nani won't have long to familiarise himself with his new surroundings before the start of the MLS season, which gets underway at the beginning of March. Orlando are available at 125/1, and although they are unlikely to challenge for the MLS Cup this season, they will be expected to push towards the playoffs this time around. Atlanta United, New York Red Bulls and LA Galaxy are understandably the pre-season favourites, and those who fancy backing any of that much-fancied trio can check out the latest odds from William Hill.
Nani possesses lightning pace and is likely to be deployed on the wing. Fans are understandably looking forward to seeing him link-up with Dom Dwyer. The striker scored thirteen goals last season despite Orlando's underwhelming performances, and the 28-year-old will undoubtedly enjoy having ample service from wide areas.
Orlando now possess one of the best attacking weapons in the league, and although the majority of their issues came at the back last year, they are unlikely to struggle in the final third this season. They scored just three times in their final eight games of 2018, and although transfer business has been relatively slow during the off-season, Nani's arrival should help alleviate some of those concerns amongst fans.
The MLS continues to increase in popularity each season, and a number of its players have caught the eye in recent years. Tyler Adams has secured a move to RB Leipzig, Newcastle paid a club-record fee for Miguel Almiron, whilst Zack Steffen is set to sign for Manchester City in July. These transfers have helped change the perception of the division, and many clubs are starting to produce quality home-grown players as opposed to solely relying on ageing European stars.
Nani still has plenty to offer and he's excited to get started in Florida. Although he's struggled to settle in recent years, he appears to be the perfect fit for the struggling Lions. He'll be hoping to hit the ground running, and his dynamism and experience should help James O'Connor's side reach the end-of-season play-offs for the first time since they entered the league in 2015.