Alan Shearer: Antonio Valencia has been one of Man United’s best performers

by Leo Nieboer

Former Newcastle United striker Alan Shearer has heaped praise on Antonio Valencia following his display during Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Middlesbrough last Sunday, noting that the Ecuadorian has been one of the side’s best performers this season.

The 31-year-old capped off another indefatigable display at right wing back at the Riverside with an injury-time goal that stemmed from his raw commitment to chasing after a lost cause.

That was Valencia’s third 90 minute stint in less than a week, and he received a place in BBC analyst Garth Crooks’ ‘Team of the Week’  alongside Jesse Lingard as a result.

And Shearer, speaking to The Sun, was quick to point towards the Ecuadorian’s sensational impact at Old Trafford this season.

“I thought that Antonio Valencia was superb and he has been one of United’s best players all season,” he said.

“In him they have a player who is an eight out of ten every week and if you’ve got a few of them in your team, you always have a chance.”

Valencia has gone through three stages since arriving at United back in 2009: the one-footed, occasionally brilliant and occasionally frustrating winger; the generally useless bit-part player after receiving the No.7 shirt; and now this – an incessant, rampaging force at the back, harassing defenders and wingers in equal measure as an attacking full-back.

The Ecuadorian can often be hard to pin down as a character – mainly because, as a right back, attention has largely gone towards other players this season; the fact that he has never smiled or spoken a word of English doesn’t help either.

But make no mistake: Valencia’s perennial commitment to the cause, regardless of circumstances, is something that young footballers all around the world can learn from.

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