Ander Herrera has claimed that his Manchester United teammate Antonio Valencia is the best right-back in the world.
Valencia has played as a winger for most of his career. But after having a terrific first three years with United since signing from Wigan Athletic in 2009, the Ecuadorian’s form dipped, and fans grew frustrated with his poor crossing in particular.
Under former United boss Louis van Gaal, however, Valencia was reinvented as a right-back and flourished in the position.
Now, Red Devils midfielder Ander Herrera believes the 31-year-old is on par with Juventus defender Dani Alves as the best right-back in the world.
“I know him and have always liked the way he plays,” Herrera told MUTV. “I know he’s not a normal right-back because he used to play as a winger, but I think that, right now, he is the best right-back in the world, maybe with Dani Alves, because I like Dani Alves a lot.
“When you have a right-back who is quick to defend and he is crossing maybe six or seven times a game, always or almost always successfully, then he understands the football. When I have the ball, I know that Antonio’s always ready to receive it, always to give you one solution.
“I think he’s going to be very important this season. He has already been very important for the club, he has already been here eight years, but I think I told you at the end of the last season something good is being cooked and everyone wants to be part of that.”
Valencia has established himself as United manager Jose Mourinho’s first choice right-back this season, ahead of the likes of Matteo Darmian and Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
He had a very strong pre-season, and was the provider of the cross that Zlatan Ibrahimovic headed in to win United the Community Shield. He also put up brilliant displays in United’s first two Premier League games of the season, which they won 3-1 and 2-0 against Bournemouth and Southampton respectively.