Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Don't compare me to Ronaldo, says Valencia

Antonio Valencia

Antonio Valencia is determined to be his own man and not try to become Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo mark II.

While Ronaldo is still attracting all the headlines as he starts the job of proving he was worth the world record £80million fee Real Madrid paid United for him, Valencia has made a somewhat lower key arrival at Old Trafford.

The Ecuador star might have cost Sir Alex Ferguson £17million but that fee is dwarfed by the vast amounts that have been shelled out this summer by both Real and, rather closer to home, Manchester City.

Yet, with Ferguson declaring his close-season transfer business over, it is to Valencia the Red Devils' faithful will look to fill the enormous gap Ronaldo has left.

It is not a position the South American is entirely comfortable with and one he is pretty eager to distance himself from.

“I don't make any comparisons between myself and Cristiano,” he said.

“Obviously Cristiano did very well here but, when I had my first conversations with Manchester United, it was never said I was coming here as a replacement for him.

“What I want is to make sure I do my own job and concentrate on the things I do well.

“That is the main thing for me because I have a real desire to be a success here.”

History suggests Valencia will be compared to Ronaldo until such point as he begins to carve out his own niche in United history.

Earning a Premier League title in his first season would be a start, particularly as it would be a fourth on the trot for United, a feat never previously achieved in English football history.

Certainly the form Valencia showed at the back end of last season suggests he can make a major impact, with none of the Portugal superstar's histrionics either.

Mind you, that form came about partly as a consequence of Ferguson's interest in him.

“When a club that big shows an interest in you, it motivates you to really work hard,” he said.

“That is what I did and I will continue to do so.”

At a time when United are being snubbed in favour of life in Madrid, it is telling Valencia opted to stay in England rather than try his hand at the Bernabeu as initial speculation suggested.

However, despite his Latin background, Valencia insists he has no aching desire to make it in Spain like Ronaldo. And life in the damp north-west suits him just fine.

“I love it here,” he said.

“I love life in England and I love the football.

“When I was a kid I always dreamed of playing in a league that was this good. I am delighted to have the chance and so far the Premier League has been great for me.”

Meanwhile, Nemanja Vidic was missing from the United squad that headed out to Malaysia for the first leg of a four-match Far East tour.

Although United have not given a reason for Vidic's absence, the defender was forced to pull out of a World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands last month after suffering an ankle injury in Serbia's victory over Austria.

With Wes Brown and Gary Neville included in a 22-man party, there was no point risking Vidic, although Ferguson will hope to have the former Spartak Moscow man ready for the start of United's Premier League title defence against Birmingham on August 16.

The only other familiar face to miss out was Brazilian full-back Rafael Da Silva, although he too was suffering with an ankle problem at the back end of last season.

Ferguson's three new signings, headed by Michael Owen, all boarded the plane bound for Kuala Lumpur, where United will tackle a Malaysia XI on Saturday.

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