With the continuous rumours of the re arrival of Real Madrid super star Cristiano Ronaldo and the sudden dip in form of current Manchester United no.7 Antonio Valencia, one can not help but ask what the future hold for the man from Ecuador?
In June 2009, with the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid, United made a quick signing by bringing in Valencia from Wigan as the player to help fill the void agreeable left by the Portuguese.
He signed a four-year contract for an undisclosed fee, rumoured to be in the region of £16 million.
On 29 July, he made his debut for United and scored his first goal in the process, netting United's second in a 2–1 pre-season victory over Boca Juniors in the Audi Cup. He made his competitive debut for Manchester United in the 2009 FA Community Shield, when he came on for the injured Nani in the 62nd minute. On 17 October, he scored his first competitive goal for the club, scoring United's second in a 2–1 league victory against Bolton Wanderers. His first UEFA Champions League goal followed four days later in a 1–0 away victory against CSKA Moscow.
Valencia provided the assist for Wayne Rooney's winning goal in the 2010 League Cup Final against Aston Villa on 28 February 2010, Valencia was named Man of the Match as United won 2–1. On 25 April, Valencia was included in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year in his debut season for the club alongside teammates Patrice Evra, Darren Fletcher, and Wayne Rooney.
Valencia taking a corner kick in the 2–2 draw away to Fulham on 22 August 2010
On 8 August, Valencia scored United's first goal in their 3–1 win over Chelsea in the 2010 Community Shield.During a Champions League game against Rangers on 14 September, Valencia suffered a break to his left ankle. An operation the morning after the match showed that his left ankle was fractured and dislocated, and that his ankle ligaments were damaged. On 28 February 2011, Valencia returned to training with Manchester United's first-team.
He played his first game back from injury against Arsenal in the FA Cup sixth round on 12 March 2011. On 9 April, he scored his first league goal of the season as he netted the second of a 2–0 home win over Fulham. Days later, he scored the first goal in United's 4–1 victory against the German team Schalke 04 in the second leg of the semifinal of the 2010–11 UEFA Champions League, game in which he was selected as player of the match. On 14 May, he became the first Ecuadorian player to win the English Premier League in the 2010–11 season. Valencia was a starter in United's 3–1 Champions League Final defeat to FC Barcelona, preferred instead of Nani in the line-up at Wembley Stadium.
Antonio Valencia, who is not mentioned in the 'For Sale' sections of the gossip pages as much as Nani and Anderson, if at all. However is just as much of a candidate for the clear-out as his teammates, based on this season's form.
A friend remarked during the Chelsea game that Valencia's fall is pretty much as dramatic as Fernando Torres's for a player who won the United player of the year 12 months ago, a view that isn't as silly as it might otherwise sound.
Torres only gets the attention he does for his poor form because of the whole £50million business, as well as being a favourite of Roman Abramovich, foisted on a series of unfortunate Chelsea managers. But like Torres, Valencia often looks like he has forgotten how to play football, a foal not entirely in control of his own legs and certainly with little idea of what to do with that ball at his feet. In times past Valencia would pick up the ball, knock it past the full-back and power towards the byline before either clipping over or pulling back a measured cross. Now he picks up the ball and either stumbles into the full-back or shanks the thing into the crowd. The Old Trafford crowd doesn't even sound that surprised when it happens anymore, every error eliciting just a mild 'This sh*t again' grumble rather than a howl of derision.
After the game with Chelsea which United lost by a lone, Antonio Valencia was quoted in the papers saying"Manchester United might not have needed Robin van Persie to regain the Premier League title" one will not be wrong to say the same about Valencia who provided just a single goal for United this season.
With the acquisition of Crystal Palace Wilfred Zaha and the potential return of Cristiano Ronaldo Sir Alex will no doubt have some thinking to do on what to do with his current No. 7.