Valencia reminds United and Real of his class with farewell performance
25 May 2009 10:17
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Wigan manager Steve Bruce bade a fond farewell to winger Antonio Valencia after the Ecuador international put in an impressive performance in the 1-0 victory over Portsmouth.
The 23-year-old is destined to leave the JJB Stadium in a multi-million pound deal to one of Europe's top clubs after being tracked by the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United.
Valencia was back to his best against Pompey, giving left-back Hermann Hreidarsson a torrid time, but displays like that will be a fleeting memory come the start of next season.
Bruce, who signed Valencia on a permanent deal in January 2008 after the player was initially brought in on loan by former boss Paul Jewell in August 2006, said: 'He showed why we will struggle to hold on to him, he was absolutely magnificent.
'I'll be devastated to lose him because how the hell do we replace him - but he deserves it.
'He is a great kid to work with; he's humble, a great athlete and he deserves to play at the highest level - which he will do.
'The size of clubs who want to try to take him is growing by the day and unfortunately for him he will go.
'It is out of my hands now. It is up to the powers that be to get the best deal.'
Wigan are certain to make a huge profit on a player bought from Villarreal for around £2million and that will allow them to bring in support for striker Hugo Rodallega, yesterday's match winner.
The Colombia international, signed in January as a replacement for Emile Heskey, scored his third goal in four matches in the 27th minute when he tapped home from three yards after Sol Campbell had allowed Charles N'Zogbia's cross through his legs.
Portsmouth's caretaker manager Paul Hart said his side were disrupted by the withdrawal of four players late on - Glen Johnson with a hamstring injury and Sean Davis, David Nugent and Nadir Belhadj with a virus.
However, he refused to be drawn on his future, with a board meeting scheduled for later this week at which a decision will be taken on the way forward in terms of the next manager.
Hart said: 'I think this week will answer most questions about the managerial position and players.'
Asked if he craved the job he replied: 'I've not craved anything for a long time.
'When you have been a manager do you really crave? I'm not sure you do.'