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Orlando City signs former Man United winger Nani as designated player

With MLS stars grabbing the attention of clubs overseas, the ESPN FC panel assess how the league is viewed in Europe.

Former Manchester United winger Nani has become the latest one-time Red Devil to join Major League Soccer after a career in Europe, agreeing to a three-year contract with Orlando City.

On Feb. 15, ESPN FC sources reported the deal was in its final stages and on Monday Orlando announced that Nani, 32, had been given a free transfer from Portugal's Sporting Lisbon. He will be listed as a designated player and will only count partially against the team's salary cap.

"This is an exciting day for our organization," Luiz Muzzi, Orlando City's executive vice-president of Soccer Operations, said in a statement on the club website.

"Nani brings tremendous experience to our roster. He's a dynamic winger with quality abilities to move and cross the ball, impact games and lead the offensive play."

Nani made his Premier League debut as a substitute for Wayne Rooney on Aug. 12, 2007 and remained with United until 2014, making 230 appearances in all competitions, while scoring 41 goals.

In 2014, Nani returned to Sporting on loan and has since played for Fenerbahce, Valencia and Lazio before returning to the Portuguese club in July last year, playing 28 games and scoring eight times.

"Sporting Clube de Portugal... appreciates the services provided and wishes Luis 'Nani' the greatest personal and professional success," Sporting said on their website.

Nani, who returned to Sporting in the summer following a transfer from Valencia, posted a letter to Sporting fans on Instagram which read: "It's with mixed emotions that I leave my beloved club. On one hand, I´m enthusiastic to face a new challenge in my life and on the other hand I'm nostalgic to leave a home that has given me so much. Sporting means everything to me.

"It's here where I grew up, where I became a man and where I always felt at home when I had the opportunity to return. To go to the MLS is not only interesting for me, for my family but also for the club. Life provides opportunities that are good for everyone. I'm not saying goodbye because we will briefly see each other again...."

View this post on Instagram

Caros Sportinguistas, É com um misto de sentimentos que deixo o clube do meu coração. Por um lado, estou entusiasmado por enfrentar mais um novo desafio na minha vida, mas por outro sinto-me verdadeiramente nostálgico ao deixar uma casa que me deu tanto. O Sporting significa tudo para mim. Foi aqui que cresci, que de criança me fiz homem, e foi também aqui que sempre me senti em casa quando tive oportunidade de regressar. Senti-me mais uma vez em casa esta época e foi para mim um verdadeiro orgulho usar a braçadeira de capitão. Todas as vezes que entrei em campo com as nossas cores, dei tudo o que tinha. Vencer a Taça da Liga foi uma alegria imensa... e como todos os meu colegas, lutei para que o clube alcançasse todos os seus objetivos ao longo desta temporada. Não posso negar que tivemos altos e baixos durante este ano, mas para ser sincero nunca pensei em sair. Contudo, por vezes a vida proporciona oportunidades que são boas para todos. E esta de rumar à MLS é interessante para mim e para a minha família e muito apelativa para o clube também. Poderia dizer adeus, mas não o farei. Digo até logo, porque voltaremos a ver-nos em breve. Porque o verdadeiro amor nunca morre e este dá-me a certeza que nos voltaremos a encontrar. Um grande obrigado a todos os sócios e adeptos do Sporting, aos meus colegas e a todo o staff que nos ajuda todos os dias a trabalhar melhor. Forte abraço para todos, Nani

A post shared by Luís Nani (@luisnani) on

Nani helped Portugal win the 2016 European Championship -- taking the armband from Cristiano Ronaldo after he was injured -- and was a member of their 2014 World Cup squad. He has been capped 112 times, scoring 24 goals for his country.

Nani won four Premier League titles and the 2008 Champions League with Manchester United.

Information from Reuters, the Associated Press and Adriana Garcia was used in this report.

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