Transfer Tales: Antonio Valencia

Friday 30 June 2023 07:00

On this day in 2009, Manchester United finalised the signing of Antonio Valencia from Wigan Athletic.

It was a busy summer of transfer activity for the Reds and an agreement was reached to land the winger on a four-year contract, after he had settled and impressed in the Premier League with the Latics.

Circumstances had dictated that the right-sided player would be viewed as a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo but he could have been linking up with the Portuguese icon at Real Madrid if things had panned out differently.

There was talk of Wigan boss Steve Bruce agreeing a fee with the Bernabeu club, ahead of domestic suitors United, Aston Villa, Liverpool and Tottenham.

Watch Antonio Valencia's top 10 goals for United.

“There is so much interest in him,” said Bruce, back in the February. “Not just in this country but around the world. We are talking about the biggest clubs here, Spain and beyond. There was a loan deal put to us by Real Madrid but it was not acceptable.”

Yet there were separate reports that Bruce, who would be replaced by Roberto Martinez before the deal was finalised, had informed his former manager Sir Alex Ferguson that United could do a deal in the summer.

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan was in no doubts about the quality of the player he was selling. “I think Antonio is the best wide-right player anywhere,” he stated. “And that includes Franck Ribery.

“If this lad goes to United, he will be a sensation there. Within a few months and, over the course of a season, the United supporters will come to worship this lad. At the kind of money that’s been talked about, he’d be an absolute steal. United have been in touch over the last two or three months, expressing an interest and actually putting cash offers on the table.”

United reportedly ended up paying around £16 million for the unassuming 23-year-old, after concluding negotiations to send Ronaldo to Madrid for £80 million.

“Antonio is a player we have admired for some time now,” admitted Ferguson. “I am sure his pace and ability will make a significant contribution to the team.”

'I thank Manchester for the love'


Former captain Antonio Valencia reflects on his return to Old Trafford and reuniting with a legendary member of staff.

The Ecuador international was ecstatic to be joining such a big club. “Playing in front of 76,000 fans, alongside players like Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs, will be an amazing experience,” he enthused. “I can’t wait to get started.”

Valencia did not disappoint, in a decade at Old Trafford, becoming captain, making 339 appearances, winning two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, two League Cups, the Europa League and the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year, in 2011/12.

After converting to right-back to good effect, he left for LDU Quito in 2019.