By Andy Jones
- Antonio Valencia joined Manchester United for £16million in the summer of 2009
- The Ecuadorian made his 200th Premier League appearance for the club on Sunday
When Sir Alex sold Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid for £80m in 2009. Many United fans were expecting a big name player to come in and replace the Portuguese superstar.
What they probably didn’t expect was an underwhelming summer in the transfer market. With Michael Owen arriving on a free, plus the signing on Gabriel Obertan and Antonio Valencia from Wigan for around £16m.
Originally signed as a right-sided midfielder, Valencia has now evolved into one of the most reliable and consistent performers in the team. Making the right back slot his own since the departure of Rafael da Silva to Lyon.
It hasn’t always been plain sailing for the Ecuadorian. In his second season at the club he suffered a horrific ankle break in a Champions League game against Rangers in September 2010.
He didn’t return to action until March 2011 and suffered an indifferent season for the Red Devils.
First Name On The Team-Sheet!
It’s a testament to the player’s character that he has managed to revive his United career in such a way that he is now one of the first names on Jose Mourinho’s team sheet.
Luke Shaw could also take a long look at Valencia’s attitude and bravery, making the difficult and long road recovery from a bad injury.
There was also the burden of wearing the famous number 7 shirt, which only lasted a season. With the player unable to live up to the weight of expectation from supporters, and returned to his number 25 shirt.
Once regarded as a bit of a scape goat with Old Trafford regulars. With the players crossing being a particular highlight. Being incredibly one footed, his consistent ability to smash a cross into the box at ankle height becoming part of the clubs folklore.
Antonio Valencia has managed to turn public opinion full circle, ask any United fan now, and they would hold the player in the highest regard.
Fast, strong, dependable, and up there with the best right backs in the league. He’s arguably had his best season in a United shirt.
Adding the EFL cup to his two Premier league titles and FA Cup winners medal, and will be up there with Zlatan as a major contender for player of the year.
His goal on Sunday against Middlesbrough epitomised the players work rate. He chased down a routine back pass to Victor Valdes. Who then lost his footing allowing Valencia to steal the ball and tap it into an empty net. For his first league goal for 2 years.
Just a shame he didn’t smash it into the net with his left foot.