Manchester United fans had to put up with some pretty average performances from Antonio Valencia last season.
Fortunately for United supporters, Louis van Gaal limited the winger-turned-right-back to just 14 Premier League appearances. But in those, the 30-year-old was less than impressive.
But if fans hoped Valencia would find some form ahead of the new season at Copa America, they are very much mistaken.
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The former Wigan Athletic man was sent off for Ecuador in their quarter-final defeat to the United States in pretty bizarre fashion.
Having already been booked in the first-half, Valencia decided to scythe down Alejandro Bedoya in the 54th minute. The referee had no choice but to show him a second yellow.
Valencia's second yellow card
Valencia sent Instagram message
Such was the recklessness of Valencia’s challenge that USA’s players reacted and, after a brawl broke out, Jermaine Jones was sent off for throwing a short jab to Michael Arroyo’s chin.
And the tournament was going so well for Valencia, too. He found the net in Ecuador’s 4-0 win over Haiti last Sunday as La Tricolor finished above Brazil in Group B.
But he was forced to deliver a message to Ecuador’s fans after last night’s disappointment.
“Four days ago we welcomed your congratulations, now we accept your criticism," he said in a video posted to his Instagram account. “But life goes on. Cheer up, Ecuador. We'll see you in three months for the World Cup qualifiers. Greetings to all of you!"
Summer of upheaval
Valencia is seen as being on the periphery of Jose Mourinho’s plans for the new season, but he will have been pleased by a report in today’s Mirror.
The newspaper claims Mourinho will give every one of his players an opportunity to impress him in pre-season, which includes a trip to China next month to take on Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City.
Still, it’s hard to imagine Mourinho not using United’s huge transfer budget to replace Valencia.
Matteo Darmian flattered to deceive under Louis van Gaal last season but he remains ahead of Valencia in the pecking order.
And, according to Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio, the Red Devils have joined the race to sign Monaco right-back Fabinho. The 22-year-old scored six goals last season but Mourinho faces competition from Barcelona and Napoli.
So the United team that takes to the field for the opening day fixture against Bournemouth on August 13 could look entirely different to the one that beat Crystal Palace in last month’s FA Cup final.
Eric Bailly has already arrived on a £30 million deal from Villarreal and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is reportedly booked in for a medical upon his return from Euro 2016.
Should Mourinho sell Valencia? Let us know in the comments section below!
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