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Victory land Portuguese star Nani for ALM

Melbourne Victory have signed former Manchester United winger Nani for the 2022-23 A-League Men’s season.

The 35-year-old spent eight years at Old Trafford, winning the 2008 UEFA Champions League title as well as four English Premier League crowns and four FA Cups.

Nani has made 112 appearances for Portugal and was a member of his country’s 2016 European Championships victory alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.

Most recently the veteran spent last season at Venezia in Italy’s Serie B, making 10 appearances in his solitary campaign with the Venice-based outfit.

“From what I have seen, the fans in Melbourne are not only the best in the league but they rival the atmosphere in Europe and I’m looking forward to being a part of that on the field in a Victory shirt and playing for them this season,” Nani said.

Nani’s arrival comes a day after Victory announced New Zealand international Marco Rojas had left the club to pursue an overseas opportunity.

Nani is Victory’s seventh signing for the upcoming campaign, with former Socceroo Tomi Juric and goalkeeper Paul Izzo among those to have joined Tony Popovic’s team.

“We’re proud to be able to recruit a player like Nani to our club and believe he will be an incredible asset for Melbourne Victory and the entire A-League,” an excited Popovic said.

The arrival of a storied player, even one in the tail end of his career, is a boost to the A-League Men’s competition after a 2021-22 campaign where crowd numbers plummeted.

Australian Professional Leagues chief executive Danny Townsend said in May the competition wanted clubs to look at “sugar hit” marquee names in a bid to boost the league’s flagging profile.

“I look at marquee players as ‘bums on seats’ players … marquees are genuine world class stars and our game needs it,” Townsend said at Western United’s pre-finals function.

“It gets criticised historically as being a bit of a sugar hit – our game needs a sugar hit.”

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