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|Birthday||August 4, 1985|
Valencia joined Manchester United in June 2009 for a fee believed to be in the region of £16 million from Wigan and impressed in his first season at Old Trafford with a number of assists and seven goals for the club.
The right winger began his career with CD El Nacional in his native Ecuador and having made his international debut in 2005 in a 5-2 World Cup qualifying win against Paraguay – marking the occasion by scoring two goals – he was snapped up as a 19-year-old by Spanish side Villarreal for £1.2 million. But after failing to break into the Yellow Submarine first team, he was loaned out to Recreativo Huelva as he adjusted to football in Europe. In 2006, his performances at the World Cup caught the eye and Wigan signed him on loan for the following season.
The Ecuador international spent three years with Wigan Athletic, initially on loan for 18 months before sealing a permanent switch in January 2008. An impressive campaign in 2007-08 saw him linked with moves to Liverpool and United as he became one of the most important players for the Latics. Another consistent season followed and having been tracked by United manager Sir Alex Ferguson for some time, the Red Devils beat off reported competition from Real Madrid to sign the winger.
He made his debut for United in the 2009 Community Shield and netted his first goal against Bolton Wanderers in October 2009, keeping a frustrated Nani out of the team or at least consigned to his unfavoured left-wing position for much of the season thanks to a series of lively performances, which earned him a place in the 2010 Premier League Team of The Year.
2010-11 did not quite go to plan, however, as he spent six months on the sidelines with a broken ankle, though he did return to win his place back in the team in March, keeping Nani out of the Champions League final starting line-up. He has continued to be an important figure in the United first-team and was handed the club’s famous No. 7 shirt ahead of the 2012-13 season.
Strengths: Pace in abundance and a direct approach have made the Ecuadorian one of the most-feared wingers in the Premier League. His ability to find Wayne Rooney’s head from pinpoint crosses was the source of many a goal for United in the 2009-10 season.
Weaknesses: A tendency to over-complicate things and not deliver the early ball can frustrate, while his defending leaves a little to be desired. Needs to add more goals to his game.
Career high: Four impressive performances at the 2006 World Cup earned him a nomination for FIFA’s Best Young Player award and a move to Wigan.
Career low: Suffered an horrific double ankle fracture in a Champions League game against Rangers in September 2011, which kept him out for almost six months.
Style: Direct, speedy, athletic; Valencia is a key part of United’s attacking line-up.
Quotes: “I couldn’t have scored the amount of goals I have this season without him. He’s been great this year and the quality of balls he puts in the box for me has been unbelievable.” Wayne Rooney thanks Valencia for his many assists in the 2009-10 season.
Trivia: Valencia scored the Premier League’s final goal of the decade as he netted the fifth in a 5-0 home victory over former club Wigan on December 30, 2009.