The 25 year-old, a £17 million buy from Sporting Lisbon in May 2007, is out of contract in June 2014, but attempts to reach an agreement on an extension to that deal have failed to progress with both sides understood to be a sizeable distance apart on salary figures.
Although efforts by Zenit St Petersburg to sign Nani during the August transfer window proved unsuccessful, with the player reluctant to make the move to Russia, the Portugal international has now made it clear to Sir Alex Ferguson that he is increasingly unlikely to commit to a new long-term deal at Old Trafford.
Player and manager have since discussed the issue, with Ferguson telling Nani
that he faces a reduced involvement in the first team if he continues to
Sources close to Nani have insisted that the discussions with Ferguson were amicable and that the winger understands the manager’s assertion that he must select players who are part of the club’s future plans rather than those who are considering a move elsewhere.
Ferguson’s stance was highlighted with Ashley Young being restored to the starting line-up in preference to Nani for the 3-2 win at Chelsea on Sunday following two months out with a knee injury.
With Zenit having recruited Porto forward Hulk for £32 million after missing out on Nani, the prospect of the Russian champions returning for the player is deemed unlikely.
But having told friends that he has grown tired of life at United after arriving as a 19 year-old, Nani is believed to favour a move to Italy, where both Juventus and Inter Milan retain an interest in the player having pursued him in the past.
A return to club football in Portugal has been ruled out, despite the possibility of him being offered to Porto by United in exchange for the Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez.
Ferguson remains an admirer of Nani’s match-winning qualities and is keen to retain his services, but with the player continuing to ignore the contract offer, the Scot has only selected him to start five of United’s 13 games in all competitions this season.
Nani is likely to be involved against Chelsea in Wednesday's Capital One Cup fourth-round tie at Stamford Bridge, offering another sign of his relegation to the status of squad player rather than one rested ahead of Saturday’s crucial Premier League clash with Arsenal.
Ferguson is planning to make wholesale changes from the team which won in controversial circumstances in Sunday’s league game against Chelsea.
With Saturday’s encounter with Arsenal designated as a 12.45pm kick-off, players such as Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans are expected to miss the trip back down to London on Wednesday evening.
Anders Lindegaard will replace David de Gea in goal if he proves that he has overcome his recent thumb injury, while Ferguson is also likely to give games to Darren Fletcher, Anderson, Nick Powell and Alex Buttner.
England defender Chris Smalling has an outside chance of playing his first game of the season after being sidelined since mid-July with a broken foot.
Smalling returned to training earlier this month, but has yet to participate in a game at any level. Ferguson will make a late decision on the former Fulham defender’s readiness to play.
Should Smalling fail to prove his fitness, Ferguson is likely to field a youthful partnership of Michael Keane and Scott Wootton at centre half.
Keane, who faced Newcastle in the last round, said: “I was so tired [after the Newcastle tie]. I’ve never been that tired after a game. Mentally as well as physically because of the concentration, how the day went building up to it and then the 90 minutes was tough.
“You play games with more pressure when you get to a higher level. Every game you play, you’ve got more experience of playing for points and playing because it means something rather than just friendlies.”