Premier League

Valencia departure 'inevitable'

Wigan accept winger will leave this summer

Valencia: Wanted man

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Wigan boss Steve Bruce admits Antonio Valencia is likely to have played his last game for the club.

The Ecuador international is known to be a summer target for a host of top clubs, with the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munich expected to battle it out for his signature.

Spanish giants Real are already known to have tabled an offer for the talented winger, following up their interest from the winter transfer window.

They appear to be favourites to land the former Villarreal man, with Wigan in no position to reject the sums believed to be on offer.

With Valencia set to sit out the Latics' final game of the 2008/09 campaign against Portsmouth on Sunday with a hamstring problem, Bruce accepts he may never get the opportunity to call upon the South American ace again.

He told the Wigan Evening Post: "Antonio is going to be touch and go for Sunday, I would think he's less than 50/50. He's had this hamstring problem on-and-off since Christmas.

"It's inevitable that the lad will be leaving in the summer as there are clubs queuing up, jostling for position.

"I won't lie to fans about that. Of course I would love to keep him, but it's going to be impossible for that to happen.

"I'm not sure how far things have gone yet, but there have been phone calls, and people asking to be kept informed.

Tempted

"I leave that side of things to the powers-that-be, but to be fair to (chief executive) Brenda Spencer and (general manager) John Benson, they always respect my decision on things like this.

"Where Antonio will end up, I really couldn't say. Would he be tempted by Spain? I don't know. Bayern Munich are also a huge club in Germany."

While reluctant to allow Valencia to leave, Bruce admits the 23-year-old is capable of playing at the highest level.

"I have only worked with the kid for 18 months but he has got a special talent. He's a very good player," he added.

"And he can only get better. I think he's got all the traits of a modern top footballer - he's powerful, has plenty of pace and puts a shift in.

"He's a tough lad and has age on his side. He doesn't turn 24 until the summer.

"It will be a shame to lose him. Before January we had what I think was the best team Wigan had ever had.

"Unfortunately we've had to rip it apart very quickly."