By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
Nani will demand showdown talks with Manchester United as doubts grow over his future at the club.
The Portuguese winger was dropped from the 18-man United squad against Fulham last Saturday after failing to shine in their Premier League opener against Everton.
Zenit St Petersburg have gone public with their desire to capture £25 million-rated Nani, who is concerned he has slipped down the Old Trafford pecking order because of the growing competition for wide roles at the club.
However, the 25-year-old, who has less than two years remaining on his contract, is adamant he will not be forced out the club and is ready to ask for formal talks to determine where he stands.
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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 25-year-old.
Goal.com revealed last week that Manchester City legend Georgi Kinkladze is a central figure in Zenit’s bid to prise Nani from Old Trafford.
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 Russia’s nouveau riche clubs.
Zenit went public with their desire to sign Nani 10 days ago, with manager Luciano Spalletti revealing that contact has been made with United over the Portuguese winger.
The winners of two consecutive Russian league titles already boast Nani’s national team colleague Bruno Alves in their ranks and have the ambition and resources to make an impact in the Champions League.
Ferguson has strengthened his attacking options by signing Robin van Persie, Shinji Kagawa and Nick Powell this summer, which could be ominous in the long-term for Nani or Ashley Young.
Although Nani started the 1-0 defeat to Everton eight days ago, it was unlikely he would have done so had a defensive crisis not forced Antonio Valencia to be deployed at right-back. He was overlooked completely for the 3-2 win over Fulham despite being fully fit.
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A stalemate in talks over a new contract has yet to be resolved, which is a growing concern at Old Trafford given that he has entered the final two years of his current deal.
Spalletti has 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.”
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