Former Ireland striker Tony Cascarino has heaped praise on Antonio Valencia, labelling the right-back’s bombastic style at Manchester United as unique.
Valencia has firmly established himself as Jose Mourinho‘s first choice right back this season, making 24 appearances so far.
The 31-year-old once again dazzled supporters with a storming performance during their side’s 3-0 win over Leicester City on Sunday, claiming his second assist of 2017 for Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s 43rd minute goal.
And Cascarino, writing for the Times, was quick to give credit to the Ecuadorian for his endeavours at Old Trafford this season.
“The Manchester United right back does it over and over again. Sometimes it is a bit rushed or maybe it’s cleared by the first man for a corner but he often uses it to great effect rather than just lofting the ball into the box, something that is much easier for defenders and goalkeepers to deal with.
“Yesterday he didn’t try to beat Christian Fuchs but instead drilled the ball in early and that caught the Leicester defence on the back foot, allowing Zlatan Ibrahimovic the space to score.”
When the dust settles on the 2016/17, with all games done and minds turned towards the following campaign, praise will go out to the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic – the man with 20 goals to his name already this season – and other attacking influences.
But the true hero of this season, the constant driving force in this side, will be largely ignored. Valencia, after all, makes no fuss about his business, almost as if this whole playing-right-back-at-United lark is just another day at the office, but make no mistake: the Ecuadorian has been Mourinho’s most reliable influence at Old Trafford this season.