Agent - Top duo want Valencia
Bruce keen to keep key men at JJB Stadium
By Rob Parrish. Last Updated: April 30, 2008 2:16pm
Valencia: In demand
Wigan midfielder Antonio Valencia is a summer transfer target for both Manchester United and Liverpool, according to his agent.
The Ecuador international has become an integral member of Steve Bruce's first XI after initially being brought to the club by former boss Paul Jewell in August 2006.
And Diego Herrera insists his client has attracted the interest of the North West giants, but that there are other teams in the frame and any club who wants to land Valencia will have to part with a sizeable transfer fee.
He told El Comercio newspaper: "It is impossible to stop the improvement in a player's career when Manchester and Liverpool are in the middle.
"They have been following him for the past months. There are also two more teams interested.
"But he will not come cheap. Last week, Bruce commented £5million was not enough for the player."
Bruce insists Valencia and Honduran international Wilson Palacios would be better off playing regular football at the JJB Stadium, rather than simply being squad members elsewhere.
The Latics boss knows the duo are in demand, and would not stand in their way if the right offer emerged, but is keen for them to remain under his wing.
He told the Wigan Evening Post: "I think Wilson and Antonio are flattered by the interest.
"They are playing well to attract the interest of the big clubs, and my big fear is if the big clubs put money on the table, it would be hard to keep them. How can you deny the two kids such an opportunity?
"But what I hope for another year at least is they can stay here and keep learning their trade. If and when they do go, I hope they then go straight into a team rather than just being part of a squad.
"That is imperative for both - if they weren't playing regularly I think they would get very frustrated.
"I don't want them to go yet as they are still young, still learning their trade and can only get better. Being here together has helped them with the language situation, and enabled them to settle well.
"They are the talk of the Premier League at the moment - every manager I speak to is raving about them. Saturday was one of their quietest games, yet the Reading staff were saying what great players they were.
"What I would love is to keep them here for another year or two, although it will be difficult if the big clubs come knocking."