Many eyebrows were raised when Alex Ferguson brought in Antonio Valencia to replace the outgoing Christiano Ronaldo in 2009.
Although Valencia was never going to emulate the quality of Ronaldo, he has certainly taken the step up wonderfully.
The 26 year old Ecuadorian has been exceptional this season, contribution more assists than any other United player, with only David Silva equalling Valencia for assists in the whole premier league.
The Winger plays with a style that few possess in the modern game. Without grabbing the limelight, Valencia is a very unselfish player who ghost behind full backs and is a superb crosser of the ball. He has been one of the more consistent players at old Trafford providing ammunition for Rooney, Hernandez and Welbeck who have had contributed to the goal scoring this year.
Valencia has become a fan favourite as he combined his high level of skill with hard work on and off the ball as he is not afraid to work back. In many ways he characterises United’s fierce team work-ethic. He is the personification of the Manchester philosophy of excellence that is built on collective responsibility rather than individual brilliance.
It is of no surprise that he was included in Garth Crooks BBC team of the year and many have suggested he has been hard done by not to make the PFA official team of the season. In many ways Valencia is the unsung hero of Sir Alex Ferguson’s team. The Winger has said he is ready to prove himself once again year and with United lining up to take back the Premier league title from Manchester City, it will be players like Valencia who will be the big contributors to making that happen.