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Antonio Valencia – Is he a better central midfielder than winger?

by Richard Laverty

Antonio Valencia polarises opinion at Old Trafford like very few others.

The man who seemingly was brought in to replace one of United’s greatest ever players in 2009 actually seemed like the man for the job for a certain amount of time after his arrival.

However, now Valencia cuts a frustrated and timid figure of the man who frightened left-backs and was something of an assist machine during his first season at the club.

Week after week, the Ecuadorian would place the ball on Wayne Rooney‘s head and the ball would be in the back of the net. A leg break in 2010 dented his confidence and he was poor in the 2011 Champions League but came back as good as ever to be voted the club’s player of the season in 2012.

That isn’t the case any more.

Since then it’s been a sorry tale for the winger, assists have become all too rare and he seems all too reluctant to take on his man but against Everton, Valencia was played in the centre of a diamond alongside Angel Di Maria, a position he plays in for his national team.

With the lack of positions for out and out wingers in the current line-up, Valencia will have to play in the centre or make do with a place on the bench.

He appeared much more at home. His passing was quick and incisive and there was a certain confidence about his play that has been missing since the 2011/12 season. Added onto the fact he rarely had to venture wide to attempt a cross and it brought out a workman like performance from Valencia, unspectacular but quite efficient.

With Ander Herrera hopefully returning from injury soon, Valencia may find himself back on the bench in the next few games but this formation may just bring out some quality in the South American that Old Trafford is yet to see.

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