Antonio Valencia has admitted he’s kept on his toes at Manchester United by their string of high-profile signings – but feels he has Jose Mourinho’s trust.
The 31-year-old Ecuadorian, a winger all his career, has been converted into a right-back this season by Mourinho – and the impact appears to be paying dividends with the player a regular in the United side.
Valencia has hit more crosses than any other Premier League player this season – justifying the club’s decision to hand him a new deal earlier this term.
Speaking about his conversion to a right-back and how he was wanted by Real Madrid, Valencia told the Daily Mail:
“It was pre-season at Manchester United and Jose Mourinho pulled me to one side. It was one of our first conversations.
“He said, “When I was coach at Real Madrid, I wanted to sign you as my right back but United said no”. It was great to hear because every player needs the coach’s trust. For me it was a big moment.”
United will try to extend their unbeaten Premier League run at home to Watford on Saturday, with the player recently described by Mourinho as the most accomplished right back in world football.
“I am very happy and I’m very grateful for the manager’s words,’ he said. ‘I don’t believe I’m the best but I am really pleased to still be here.
“There was a time when I saw players of the class of Angel di Maria and Memphis Depay arriving and wondered if my time was reaching an end. Perhaps I needed to start looking for a new club. Thankfully I just concentrated and trained hard and maybe that’s why I’m still here.
“Mourinho has shown faith in me to stay here so I’m delighted. I don’t want to say I am 100 per cent a right back. I still feel like a right-sided attacking player but I guess I am getting there.
“It’s quite tough because you need to focus even more because you’re playing closer to your own goal. One misplaced pass can result in you conceding a goal.
“I feel I’ve improved in that area but when I’m on the attack it’s like I’m in my position. But I am in the team and feel like I have the manager’s backing and his trust.
“I have a new contract and I love the club, the city and my family like living here in Manchester. I would like to stay here as long as I can, five even six years, more maybe!”