La Liga side Valencia today confirmed the signing of former Manchester United full-back Antonio Valencia. The 35 year old Ecuadorian international joins on a free transfer, having been without a club since his departure from LDU Quito in the summer. Valencia is no stranger to Spanish football, having originally arrived in La Liga back in 2005 as he signed for Villarreal. However, failing to break into the first team he then spent the season on loan with Segunda division side Recreativo, helping the Andalusian side secure promotion back to La Liga as they finished top. The following season, Valencia featured heavily again, the club finishing an impressive 8th in their first season back in the top flight. His performances were enough to attract the attention of English Premier League side Wigan Athletic, whom he joined again initially on loan. The club performed above expectation as they avoided relegation in his first season, seeing the loan extended before he eventually made the permanent switch in January 2008.
Continuing to impressive on the right wing despite his side struggling, he allegedly turned down the chance to return to Spain in January 2009 as he turned down a switch to Real Madrid, but would eventually move just a few months later as he joined fellow north west club Manchester United for an undisclosed fee, thought to be around £16 million. During his time with the Red Devils Valencia was a key figure for the club, making over 240 appearances in total and picking up 9 trophies (including 2 Premier league titles and an Europa League winners’ medal). In his final season, despite becoming club captain, the Manchester side decided not to take up the option to extend his contract for another year, bringing his decade with the club to a close. Following his release, Valencia returned to Ecuador to sign with LDU Quito, winning the Copa Ecuador in 2019.
His arrival back in Spain, signing a one-year deal with the club, comes just days after Valencia announced first-choice right back Daniel Wass was set for a spell on the sidelines with a knee injury. Despite his age, with 99 international appearances, Valencia brings the kind of experience that should enable him to slot into the setup without issue, boosted further by the fact he already knows the country and Spanish being his mother tongue. The deal represents great value and minimum risk for Valencia, who with minimal funds must try and build a squad capable of competing with the best in the country whilst not risking the financial stability the club continue to seek.Share this: