A loyal servant he may have been, but there isn’t too much doubt that Antonio Valencia’s time at Manchester United is coming to an end.
At 33 years of age, the Ecuadorian wouldn’t have been at the club past this season in any event, given that his contract is due to end then, but as it is, strong rumours continue to circulate that Valencia could be on his way to Inter in January.
Ostensibly played as a right-back in these later years of his career, he did nevertheless lose that position to another 33-year-old in Ashley Young.
Whether Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, or his replacement if there is to be one, see either player as anything more than squad players going forward is unlikely, which means that there is a vacancy on the right-hand side of United’s defence.
Diogo Dalot is still only 19 years of age, and his sporadic performances to this point suggest that the club don’t yet feel he is ready to step into the position and do it justice.
With there no obvious standout candidate in the squad at this point, the Red Devils will have to go shopping.
But who would they purchase, because you can count on the fingers of one hand the type of players that would fit United’s particular criteria?
Clearly, whomever were to take over the role would need to be energetic enough to religiously get up and down the right-hand channel all game, with particular emphasis on the defensive aspects of the job of course.
An understanding with the midfield is a must as is the pre-requisite of having superior crossing ability.
And that’s not all.
The new incumbent has to be the right age, not too young and not too old, and have experience of playing at an elite level club. Step forward Nelson Semedo.
The Portugal international has excelled for the most part for Barcelona, though perhaps hasn’t had as many minutes as he would like.
That’s not a reflection of his ability, more the fact that Ernesto Valverde has the luxury to be able to rotate a number of players thanks to the strength in depth that the Catalans have.
Having been at the Blaugrana for 18 months, Semedo is only too aware of the demands of playing for a club of such stature, so turning out for United will not faze him.
At 25 years old, he is approaching his peak, but isn’t yet there, and as long as he stays fit and injury free, he has at least another 7-8 years at the top as a minimum.
He’s quick, strong and physical, is happy to muck in at the coal face as well as bursting forward to provide chances for his attackers.
The Catalans paid €30.5 million euros for his services, and whilst they’ll want a small uplift on that figure, they can’t afford to be too precious about any potential sale fee because they need money in the coffers.
If their intention is to be signing the likes of Frenkie De Jong and Matthijs De Ligt, those types of players won’t come cheaply. Not to mention their salaries.
Add Adrien Rabiot’s €10m a season deal into the mix and clearly Barca have to make savings where they can, and not to the detriment of the squad.
Valverde has the option of stationing Sergi Roberto as a right-back, or playing with a back three, in order to keep control in the midfield.
Semedo ticks all of the right boxes as far as United are concerned, and if Barcelona can be tempted to part with him, the Red Devils would be foolish not to make a purchase.