Ryan Giggs has forged an illustrious and glittering career in the Manchester United number eleven jersey which has seen the Welshman develop into arguably the greatest player to have played in the Premier League. Giggs is the most decorated player in English football history and he is the only player who has scored in every Premiership season, but the ageless winger’s career is edging towards a conclusion. United fans will want Giggs to prolong his career for as long as possible, but when the inevitable day arrives when he has to hang up his boots, United have a player who can go on to dominate the right wing in the same way Giggs did on the left. That player is Ecuadorian Antonio Valencia. Since arriving from Wigan in 2009 for a fee in the region of £16 million, Valencia has produced wing play reminiscent of a young Ryan Giggs, so can he take the torch from the Old Trafford legend in the coming seasons?
Since returning from a serious ankle injury in March Valencia has added an extra dimension to the United side and his return has coincided with their capture of the title. Since returning to first team action Valencia has found the back of the net on two occasions and continued to produce his greatest quality, making goals for his team mates with his excellent crossing ability. Valencia could have struggled after suffering such a shocking injury, but instead he has excelled and restricted Nani, one of United’s top performers this season, to the bench in recent weeks. Last season Valencia played a huge part in Wayne Rooney’s most productive season in front of goal by supplying the England striker with numerous assists. Valencia’s latest show of class came against Chelsea at Old Trafford in the recent title decider where he made, arguably, the best left back in the world in Ashley Cole, look ordinary as he tormented him all game frequently turning him inside out.
Although Ryan Giggs has stepped into a more central role as he has got older, he spent many years marauding down the United left flank and Valencia has already shown in his time with United he can be a similar success on the right flank. In his heyday Ryan Giggs possessed phenomenal dribbling ability, a trait which Valencia also possess and it’s this what for me makes Valencia the closest thing to the next Ryan Giggs. Clearly, following in the footsteps of such an iconic player is not going to be easy, and Valencia is in many ways a different player to Giggs and of course he won’t emulate him, but he can be the next best thing.
Sir Alex Ferguson is one of the 25 year old’s biggest admirers and the South American will go on to be a big star for United. Not to the same extent as Giggs has, I don’t think anyone could do that, but I have no doubt Valencia will take on Giggs’ mantel as United’s wing wizard.