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Antonio Valencia and becoming Manchester United's new 10?

Antonio Valencia

Antonio Valencia may have switched his shirt number, could he end up changing his long-term position too?

Antonio Valencia set off countless Cristiano Ronaldo conspiracies when it was announced on Sunday he would be reverting to his old number 25 shirt rather than 7.

He failed to shine in the iconic shirt last season and a move to a number where the spotlight will not shine so brightly may suit his low-key personality and allow him to concentrate on his football.

The winger faces a new threat on the right wing from Wilfried Zaha this season, but may have a surprising way to deal with it.

For his country, Valencia is being tried out in a number 10 role behind the main striker, using his creative talents from a central position.

Tim Vickery writes for the BBC: 

"Antonio Valencia has been turned into a winger in English football, but this was not his original position. He came through as more of a central midfielder.

"Two months ago at home to Argentina - for this game Valencia was moved infield. He played behind rejuvenated centre-forward Felipe Caicedo in a 4-2-3-1 formation, and Ecuador had the best of a 1-1 draw. 

"There could be an even more compelling argument for shifting Valencia into the middle. It could help shore up a suspect defence.

"(Against Germany) Valencia scored one, had plenty of shots saved, orchestrated the play from the centre of the field and also helped tighten up the team with his physical presence and defensive awareness."

With the Ecuadorian national team in a state of transition due to the untimely death of star striker Christian Benitez, Vickery speculates that Valencia will be utilised even more so in this role, although in midweek he has not be called up for their friendly with Spain - for the country did not want to 'antagonise Manchester United.'

Keeping track of Valencia's progress in this role when the World Cup qualifiers resume should be fascinating for David Moyes and Manchester United fans.

It could hint at a longer term positional change at the club, fulfilling a much competed for role behind the striker.

Presently it is 'Wayne Rooney's role', although perhaps that should read was for the lack of clarity surrounding the Englishman. Intriguingly Rooney holds the number 10 shirt too; if he left next summer could Valencia even take his position and number?

Shinji Kagawa would be angling for the role too, while even Tom Cleverley has been tried there for England. But as United's squad evolves under David Moyes, Valencia's development and versatility could see him evolve his own game in the same manner as Ryan Giggs has his.

At present such a move is in it's formulative stage, but it deserves keeping an eye on, for club and country.

image: © Magnus D

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