Melbourne Victory have copped another bitter blow in a troubled A-League Men season, with marquee recruit Luis Nani to miss the rest of the campaign with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.
The former Manchester United and Portugal star suffered the injury in a clash of legs with Brisbane’s Connor Chapman late in Victory’s 1-0 defeat on Friday night.
It was a third consecutive loss for Tony Popovic’s side, who have slipped to 11th on the ladder, above last-placed Perth on goal difference.
The horror run has come with Victory still awaiting full sanctions from Football Australia over last month’s violent pitch invasion during the abandoned Melbourne derby.
Scans on Nani’s right knee confirmed the club’s worst injury fears.
“We’re all disappointed for Luis,” Victory coach Tony Popovic said in a club statement.
“Luis has been a big influence around the club through his leadership and experience, and he will be an incredible loss for our squad.
“The entire club will rally around Luis and will support him through his recovery.”
Nani, who won a swag of major titles with Manchester United and Portugal, was hailed as a massive signing for the ALM ahead of the 2022/23 season.
The 36-year-old arrived in Australia along with fellow former English Premier League attacker Charlie Austin, who signed with Brisbane.
But both players are now lost to the competition, with Austin citing family reasons for his return home to the UK, where he has re-joined League Two’s Swindon Town.
Nani failed to live up to the hype in Victory’s misfiring attack, going without a goal in nine ALM starts.
Only Perth have scored fewer than Victory’s tally of nine from 10 games.
Victory have the opportunity to bolster their squad in the January transfer window, with Nani’s injury meaning they now have two spots available for foreign recruits.