Ashley Young: Antonio Valencia has silenced his doubters at Manchester United this season

by Leo Nieboer

Ashley Young has heaped praise on Antonio Valencia for silencing the doubters at Manchester United, labelling the Ecuadorian as one of this season’s finest performers.

The 31-year-old has been a rampant force at right back this season, making 35 appearances in all competitions and barely putting a foot wrong in the process.

He was handed a contract extension earlier this season as a reward for his efforts and will, without doubt, be in contention for the ‘Player of the Year’ award in May.

And Young, speaking to, was quick to laud the Ecuadorian’s radical resurgence at Old Trafford under Mourinho.

“If you had said a few seasons ago he was going to be one of the players of the season at right-back I am sure many people would have looked at you funny and questioned you,” he said.

“He has been fantastic and as long as he keeps playing the way that he does, and the team keeps playing the way they do, I am sure he will go from strength to strength.”

Valencia has encountered several phases since arriving from Wigan Athletic in 2009: the first being a period hallmarked by a series of one-footed, semi-competent displays; then there was a ten month period of brilliance that saw him receive the No.7 shirt, which was quickly followed by a spell of uncertain, occasionally painful-to-watch displays that saw him lose the No.7 shirt.

And now we are at the best phase yet, this time characterised by almost inhuman energy levels and rampaging performances down the right hand side. The fact that the Ecuadorian – in a side consisting of Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford – has been United’s biggest threat out wide, whilst also serving as their most reliable full-back, is a testament to just how far he has come over the past year.

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