Nani
Nani has defended leaving United for a return to Sporting.Getty Images/Carlos Rodrigues

Sporting Lisbon winger Nani has said that his loan return to the Primeira Liga from Manchester United does not represent a backwards step in his career.

The Portuguese international had seen his opportunities dwindle at Old Trafford in recent seasons, making just seven league starts in each of the last two campaigns prior to playing just 45 minutes of the club's opening day defeat to Swansea City.

Nani has since joined his former club Sporting on loan as part of the deal which took Marcos Rojo to United. The 27 year old is delighted with the move but admits he could have left the club sooner had former boss David Moyes not blocked his departure.

"I do not think that it's a step back," Nani told Tutto Mercato. "I had other options but I decided to play at this club. It was my choice."

"Playing for Manchester United was my dream but I suffered a dip in form," he added. "You can't play well if you are not happy.

"I received a lot of offers last season from Turkey, England, and Spain. They held talks with Manchester United but [David] Moyes did not want to let me go."

Nani was part of the Portugal side that began their qualification campaign for the European Championships in losing fashion after a 1-0 defeat to Albania.

Portugal, who failed to get out of their group at the World Cup, were without Cristiano Ronaldo. Nani, who played 90 minutes in Lisbon, says his side must be more clinical.

"We needed to be more confident in attack," he told Uefa's official website.

"We were not too good in between the lines and we didn't believe enough that we could harm our opponent. We were calm before the goal and, after that moment, it became more difficult to overturn the result.

"We have plenty of matches ahead of us and we have to win them all. We need to develop our mentality and grow up as a team and individuals, and we have to believe that we'll manage to win the games to come."