What has gone wrong with Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia?

What has gone wrong with Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia?

Manchester United star Antonio Valencia was heralded as the Premier League’s best right-back last season by Jose Mourinho though fans are unlikely to agree with that statement now.

The Portuguese manager himself probably doesn’t agree now either but at the time that he said it there was certainly some truth to his words.

Valencia had suddenly become solid in his defending under Mourinho and his pace and ability to cross made him adept in both boxes.

It was clear the Ecuadorian was as complete as he could be and successfully reinvented himself as a full-back when it was once questioned whether he could do so.

In fact, before doing so his future at United was up in the air as he was a winger who couldn’t perform any more and a full-back who couldn’t defend.

However, it almost seems as though Antonio’s success was short-lived as he appears to be a different player this season.

Perhaps his age has finally caught up with him but the former Wigan man has only shown glimpses of quality this campaign and is perhaps only featuring for the Red Devils by default.

Matteo Darmian has failed to make any kind of impact on the starting XI so who else could play but Antonio Valencia in the right-back berth?

The veteran’s crossing has been absurd and he hardly beats his man anymore when it’s so crucial to Manchester United’s tactics that he does so.

Valencia is often left isolated on the right wing and he’s expected to be the club’s width provider from that side of the pitch.

The problem is that he’s now often doubled up on as Juan Mata or Jesse Lingard tend to drift inside and so he just passes the ball back or squares it to the midfield.

The need for someone to overlap Antonio is so evident as he needs the support now unlike last season but perhaps he also needs a true successor.

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Freelance football writer and Football Manager enthusiast. Unhealthy obsession with tactics, debates and chasing after a ball with 21 other people.