Valencia - I'm no Ronaldo
Winger unfazed by his high profile transfer to Red Devils
By Hayley Paterson. Last Updated: December 12, 2009 12:24pm
Antonio Valencia insists he is not at Manchester United to replace the void created by Cristiano Ronaldo's summer departure to Real Madrid and wants to improve.
The Ecuadorian was tipped by many as a quick fix by Sir Alex Ferguson to fill Ronaldo's boots following his £80million transfer to the Bernabeu.
However Valencia insists he is a different player to the Portuguese superstar and, having scored four goals in 10 matches, is enjoying life at Old Trafford.
"I am my own man," the 24-year-old told The Independent.
"I thought Cristiano was a very good player but I always play according to what I think and what I want to do at that particular moment and what I know. I never imitate anyone."
And the former Wigan man has had similar assurances from the Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson to not try and emulate Ronaldo.
"He [Ferguson] said, 'You don't have to follow Cristiano but you do have to work' and I'm doing that."
His £16million transfer from the Latics in the summer is a far cry from where Valencia started. At the age of 16, his older brother Carlos paid for his bus fare as he travelled eight hours to play for Ecuador's El Nacional.
Despite now favouring the role of a winger, he began life in central midfield and was soon drafted into the international set-up, scoring 17 goals in 23 games for Ecuador's Under 20s.
Valencia was also called up to the full international squad and had a short spell in Spain for Villarreal.
He was later spotted by then-Wigan boss Paul Jewell who brought him to Lancashire before his eventual switch to the Premier League champions this year.
Valencia, who has been likened to former United star Andrei Kanchelskis by ex-boss Steve Bruce, is eager to improve through guidance from his managerial mentor and provide goalscoring passes for his team-mates on a regular basis.
"He [Ferguson] told me I must concentrate more in training and in matches, that I must try to score goals at every opportunity but also help my team-mates to score," he added.
"I'm practising all the time. I practise with my team-mates and I like to improve and get better with it."