Manchester United: Valencia can become EPL's best
Antonio Valencia can be more important to David Moyes than any signing would have been
A change of number has resulted in an alteration of psyche for Antonio Valencia, and the reemergence of the Ecuadorian winger will prove to be more valuable than any acquisition Manchester United could have made in the summer transfer window.
The 28-year-old's performance against Bayer Leverkusen - one of great verve and intent - on Tuesday was demonstrative of Valencia near the peak of his supreme powers, and evidence he can provide a vital hand in ensuring David Moyes' maiden campaign at Old Trafford ends a glorious one.
Valencia, of his own accord, took the decision during pre-season to relinquish the No.7 shirt and instead revert back to his original No.25, in the hope he would be able to free himself from the shackles that came with the inheritance of the most esteemed of all Manchester United jerseys.
It was an admirable decision and, evidently, a choice well made, which would appear set to prove fruitful for both the player on a personal note and for his club, who will be the exceptional beneficiaries should Valencia be able to enjoy a sustained period of form over the coming weeks and months.
Following the departure of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid for £85 million, there is no winger in the Premier League defenders will fear more greatly than Valencia, whose burrowing runs present a most terrifying proposition for opposition full-backs, and a penetrative option like no other available at Old Trafford.
Valencia is a wide player in the most literal sense, with the former Wigan star viewing the touchline as his friend and seeing the byline as the desired point to reach before looking to find one of his teammates with a cross. If Robin van Persie was able to find the net 30 times last season without Valencia in his pomp, then there is no telling how regularly the Dutchman can score this term.
He is the most proficient player of his ilk in the Premier League and is capable of succeeding Bale to become the Player of the Year when the season reaches its end, and is primed to position himself among the most highly regarded players in European football.
The imminent Manchester derby presents an opportunity for Valencia to display his true worth to Manchester United, and a performance of the quality he is able to demonstrate could prove more influential than any contribution from Van Persie or Wayne Rooney.
Valencia may no longer wear a shirt emblazoned with the iconic No.7, but he has the ability to be to Moyes what the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham were to his predecessor.