When Jose Mourinho was appointed Manchester United manager in the summer many players immediately became concerned for their futures with the Red-Devils under the Portuguese boss. Many pundits felt that Jose would make the purchase of a specialist right-back a priority given the inconsistencies last season in that position.
The new manager however surprised many and handed the right-back berth to United veteran 31 year old Antonio Valencia. The Ecuadorian international was originally a right-winger but was pressed into service as a defender by Louis van Gaal after numerous injuries to Matteo Darmian and others last season. Valencia acquitted himself quite well but was widely expected to be jettisoned by Mourinho when he took over. Quite the opposite has happened however as Mourinho gave Valencia a chance and the player has taken full advantage of the opportunity becoming one of the manager’s most trusted performers.
Valencia was concerned that the club would cut him loose and not pick up the 1 year option on his current deal but since he has been such a consistent performer this year – making the right-back position his own and recently being voted the player of the month by fans – the manager has extended the former Wigan winger’s contract until the summer of 2018.
Valencia has become a solid defender and offers a great deal going forward as you would expect from a former winger and keeps himself in tip-top shape. His fine overall fitness certainly helped earlier this season when an arm injury looked to have him sidelined for a long time but he was able to return must faster than anticipated due to his attitude and physical conditioning.
Antonio Valencia has won the Premier League twice with United as well as the FA Cup and the EFL Cup in his over 200 appearances for the club plus he has been capped 87 times for Ecuador scoring 10 times. The quiet professional will be hoping to add more to his silverware collection now that Jose has shown faith in him with his new contract.