Over the last few weeks, the rumour mill has gone into overdrive with the countless players set to come and go at Old Trafford. One of these rumours is the departure of Nani from Manchester United, particularly since the arrival of Ashley Young at Old Trafford.
While I believe Nani will ultimately stay at United, what does next season have in store for Antonio Valencia?
With the arrival of Ashley Young at United, it could be argued that Valencia, not Nani, will have to make way and his place in the side might not be 100% guaranteed, particularly after a sub-par performance in the Champions League final against Barcelona, where Valencia particularly, simply went missing.
Nani meanwhile, excelled last season in Valencia’s absence and was voted as United’s Player of the Year. Throw in the added competition on the wings from Young, Ji-Sung Park and it doesn’t guarantee Valencia be a permanent fixture in the side next season.
Valencia has spoken out about Young’s arrival, welcoming the England international to the club and saying he has no interest in leaving. The Ecuadorian winger said:
“I do not fear his arrival. The season is long and under Alex Ferguson everyone will get their chance in United’s key matches.
“Ashley is a good footballer and I believe he will help us towards more success. As for myself, I have two more seasons left at United and I am convinced I will fulfil those. And maybe a few more years too.”
I have to agree with Valencia. Over a long season, he will get plenty of chances to shine and can rotate with Young and Nani for the two wing positions.
Actually I think United will be better next season if Valencia can stay fit and enjoy a full season. The side badly missed Valencia’s pace and crossing on the right wing last season, as he missed six months of the campaign with an ankle injury, which was evident in the fewer of number of goals last season that United scored.
United scored 78 goals in the league last season, 8 fewer than the previous year, and this could be attributed to the loss of Valencia, whose assists and crossing became an essential part of the team.
On his day, Valencia can destroy any opposing defender and cause havoc for the opposition, which was particularly evident when he destroyed Ashley Cole against Chelsea and when he was instrumental in the win over Schalke in the semi-final of the Champions League. His pace, power and creativity on the wing is a big weapon and a fully-fit Valencia can play an important part in hopefully delivering United’s 20th league title next season.
One player who I think will benefit from having Valencia for a full season is Wayne Rooney. The striker excelled in the 2009/10 season with Valencia on the wing and Rooney can hopefully revive his previous partnership with Tony on the wing.
Instead of posing the question of whether Young’s arrival means that one winger should go, I think the competition can bring out the best in all three wingers (Valencia, Young and Nani), as they will know that one bad performance means they could be dropped in favour of the other.
If United want to win their 20th title next season and try to avenge that loss to Barcelona by winning the Champions League, then they will need strength in depth and the different options that Valencia, Nani and Young all possess. The best teams have multiple ways to hurt the opposition and by having Valencia back for a full season, United will be stronger and I think Valencia can make the difference.
What do you think – can having a fully-fit Valencia next season make the difference for United?
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