Future bright for Valencia: Jewell recalls first time he saw United's newest star
22 August 2009 02:03
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I was at the World Cup in Germany scouting for Wigan. It was Poland v Ecuador and I thought I might see some Poles of interest - when you're manager of Wigan you don't expect to be scouting Ecuadoreans.
But Ecuador won 2-0 and there was one player who stood out - Antonio Valencia. I liked his reading of the game, his understanding of the play and I was surprised to find out he was only 20. His game was much more mature.
He was at Villarreal but on loan to Recreativo Huelva and that made you think Villarreal were unsure about him.
Stand out: Manchester United's Antonio Valencia
I started to do a bit of digging. It was a complicated process getting him and Wigan paid Villarreal a 2million euro loan fee.
He arrived on a Friday and we had a pre-season friendly on the Saturday. Without having trained, he came on for 20 minutes.
Straight away the other lads could see he was a player. And I liked him, we all did, he always came in smiling.
I'm not surprised Manchester United have bought him and I bet his new team-mates are impressed.
Work rate: Valencia in action against Burnley
Replacing a great talent like Cristiano Ronaldo is not easy. Antonio is not as good in the air as Ronaldo. Nor does he score a lot of goals, that's his weakness.
But he'll get better at that and as the season develops he will bring the most out of Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov.
And he works and works. He has the ability and the mentality to make it at Old Trafford, I'd bet my life on that.