Luis Nani vs Antonio Valencia - Who is Better?
When Nani arrived at Manchester united he opened his account very early on with a screamer of a goal and a flamboyant goal celebration to match. You would be mistaken in thinking here was the arrival of one of the next biggest things in Football and he came along with wonder-kid Anderson and fellow compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo in a new wave of Manchester united players that looked very exciting for the future. The reality is that Nani is yet to truly establish himself and win the full support of both fans and managerial staff alike but certainly at first Nani looked like a standout player.
Before long it became apparent that Cristiano Ronaldo was the real golden boy and being of the same nationality, play-style and position upon the pitch, it was hard not to constantly draw comparisons between the two and in many peoples eyes Nani became a Cristiano Ronaldo wannabe, if Ronaldo had managed to eradicate initial fears about his lack of end product, Nani sadly could not and fans were getting tired of his show boating, loss of possession and apparent poor understanding of the game. Nani found himself no more than a squad player, playing in rotation.
The sale of Cristiano Ronaldo was a real opportunity for Nani to emerge from under his shadow and to an extent he did and was beginning to relish a much more important role within the squad. It was the injury of Wayne Rooney that really brought the best out of Nani, as now he was the man and he didn't disappoint, during this phase Nani rose to the responsibility and delivered the goods and began to look like the spectacular player we all knew he was capable of being but sadly he burnt out and was back to his frustrating best.
Antonio Valencia had become firm favorite and was forging a great fruitful bond with Wayne Rooney which saw the two combine for goal after consecutive goal and for the 2011 champions league final vs Barcelona, Nani was benched for Valencia for the first 70 minutes and when Nani finally came on, his sloppy defensive pass led to David Villa's goal which helped bury United, the future didn't look great for Nani, however when Valencia was sidelined for half the season in 2011 with an ankle injury, then the opportunity was there once again for Nani to take up the mantle and regain his first team position and he once again forged a lethal combo with young and Rooney but as soon as the challenge from Valencia came back, his form tailed off some and Valencia was once again ready to quickly reclaim his position on the RW.
Nani enjoyed being a solid part of the 2012 Portuguese squad and helped them to the semi finals, where Spain was only able to stop them on penalties, this would once again lead you believe that Nani was amongst the European elite but the frustrating player who looses possession all too easily is never too far away.
Let's not forget the incredible ability that he has, on his day, he has speed, strength, can take his man on, deadly from long range and capable of the unpredictable and sublime.
Antonio Valencia went largely under the radar during his time at Wigan, that is under everybody's radar except Fergie's., my guess is that ex Manchester United legend Steve Bruce, Valencia's Manager at Wigan, gave Fergie the tip off about Valencia's ability. When Cristiano Ronaldo left Manchester United to join Real Madrid for a whopping £80,000,000, Fergie swooped in quickly to acquire the services of right winger Antonio Valencia but was quick to play down any suggestions that he was a replacement Cristiano, for fear of placing too much pressure upon him. Many united fans and the media alike were bemused at the suggestion that Valencia could fill even one of Ronaldo's boots, let alone the two of them. Valencia went about his way putting in humble performances but in the early phases of the 2010-2011 season began to draw attention, his assists were wracking up and in particular his assists for teammate Wayne Rooney, as the two combined for nearly 8 goals in a row in the same fashion every time, cross by Valencia-head by Rooney. Valencia was then cruelly stopped in his tracks with a nasty injury which saw him miss at least half the beginning of the 2011-2012 campaign, just when he was gaining some recognition for his efforts from fans and pundits alike.
When he finally returned, it was like he had never gone, even in his first game back he still possessed that same yard of pace which enables him to terrorize opposition fullbacks and he was back to his best, beating his man and unselfishly drilling low driven crosses in for his team mates all game long. His efforts were recognized by the fans, as they voted his Man United player of the year and his omission from the starting lineup in the crucial six pointer against Manchester City bewildered everybody.
When Michael Owen departed Manchester United leading up to the start of the 2012-2013 season, it left the talismanic number 7 shirt up for grabs, when Shinji Kagawa reportedly turned the shirt down, feeling he had not yet earnt it, the natural decision was to give it to antonio, this once more reminded people that he was brought in to replace Cristiano Ronaldo, as he had previously worn the shirt and embodied all that it stands for, at least this time, most people conceded that although he may still have a tough time living up to Ronaldo, he was completely deserving of the honour of wearing the shirt.
Valencia is a very unselfish and humble players, he doesn't showboat and likes to do things simply and effectively and is all about the end product, this is probably in stark contrast to Nani.
His low driven cross has become somewhat of a trademark and his strength and yard of pace allows him to get that cross in nearly every time, he is very efficient and very rarely concedes possible. He has proven to be reasonably versatile and good going back and this is why Fergie chose to field Valencia in the RW position against Barcelona in the 2011 CL final, opposed to Nani, as Valencia would be able to provide better defensive cover, against the dangerous iniesta, however Valencia was rather disappointing in this match, which was a rare blip on his CV. Fergie has opted to play him at Right wing back, when the occasion has called for it and Valencia has obliged and applied himself well there but there is no doubting he is most effective when he is threatening enemy defenses, the only criticism that exists of Valencia, is that he is yet to score enough goals in his own right in order to became a truly rounded player but this could just be symptomatic of his unselfishness
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