Ole Gunnar Solskjaer suggested Antonio Valencia’s 10-year Manchester United stay could be coming to an end, with the club unlikely to trigger a one-year extension.
Valencia, 33, joined United in 2009 after a fine three-year spell at Wigan Athletic, essentially becoming Cristiano Ronaldo’s replacement on the right flank at Old Trafford.
While the Ecuador international enjoyed a good first season, he missed the majority of his second campaign due to a broken ankle and many feel he has never been quite the same as an attacking presence.
Nevertheless, he has gone on to enjoy a solid career at United, becoming captain and successfully reinventing himself as a right-back under Jose Mourinho.
This season he has featured just five times in the Premier League due to fitness issues, however, and with the club reported to have until 17:00 GMT on Friday to trigger a one-year extension, Solskjaer accepts Valencia’s future at the club is looking uncertain.
“He’s still not 100 per cent fit, still working to get back fit,” Solskjaer told reporters on Friday ahead of the visit of Southampton.
Ole on @LukeShaw23: “When he goes into fifth gear there’s no one quicker than him — he’s so sharp off the mark. Of course confidence grows when you play and when you play well, so I’ve been delighted with his performances.” #MUFC pic.twitter.com/UxdKaLX27A
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 1, 2019
“He’s had a fantastic career here at Manchester United and in England, he’s one of the [few] Premier League winners left in the dressing room, but I’m not sure if Manchester United and Antonio will agree on the next year.
“So, it depends if he gets back on the pitch in the next few months, but he’s the captain, he’s been a great servant to the club, so hopefully I can get him on the pitch, or he can get himself fit, and show what he can do.”
While Valencia’s United career looks to be hanging by a thread, Luke Shaw’s is thriving, with the left-back having produced two impressive displays against Liverpool and Crystal Palace.
He will face his former club on Saturday in arguably the best form of his United spell, and Solskjaer is thrilled to see him playing confidently.
“I don’t know what I’ve done differently, he’s played, but it’s him,” Solskjaer said. “He’s got another couple of years in him, Luke, and when he decides to drive forward and goes into fifth gear, there’s no one quicker, no one as sharp.
“Confidence grows when you play well and I’ve been delighted with his performances.”