Antonio Valencia has been fortunate enough to play with some of the greats throughout his career and he was spoiled for choice when it came to selecting the best XI of players he was lucky enough to call team-mates.
Speaking to FourFourTwo, Mata ultimately named his ultimate Xl of: David de Gea, Ulises de la Cruz, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Nani, Marcos Senna, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Christian Benitez, Wayne Rooney.
This got us thinking of the best XI of players he excluded and we present them to you in a 4-4-2 formation.
GK: Edwin van der Sar
The Dutch goalkeeper spent two seasons of his years at Old Trafford with Valencia and he remained to be as consistent as ever. He won the Premier League title during his final season with the club in 2010-11.
Valencia spent most of his days at United with De Gea between the sticks, but Van der Sar’s legacy at the club can’t be overlooked. In his prime, there was no getting past him.
RB: Gary Neville
Not only did Valencia inherit the captain’s armband from Neville, but he also ended up taking his position too. Originally signed as a winger, Valencia ended up in the right-back role more than often.
Back in 2018 Neville Tweeted: “I think Antonio Valencia has done brilliantly to be honest and more than replace me, he’s been a star for three years.”
CB: Wes Brown
It’s understandable that Valencia opted for Ferdinand and Vidic as his centre-half pairing, but it’s worth remembering just how underrated Brown was. With 362 United appearances to his name, Brown was always reliable.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 4, 2021
CB: John O’Shea
Like with Brown, O’Shea wasn’t the flashiest of names, but he got the job done. Having racked up 393 appearances for United over the span of 12 seasons with the club, he’s well worth his place in the side.
Valencia only spent two seasons with O’Shea but the pair won three trophies while they were each together at the club, including the 2010–11 Premier League title.
LB: Leighton Baines
Perhaps one of the most underrated full-backs in the Premier League era, Baines pretty much had it all. Having played with Valencia at Wigan Athletic, he could’ve quite easily made the cut.
At both ends of the pitch, Baines could do it all.
Leighton Baines – the greatest left back in Premier League history 👑🔵pic.twitter.com/f0lCv9zdSn
— The-Toffees (@thetoffees_com) December 3, 2022
RM: Santi Cazorla
The diminutive Spanish playmaker was a joy to watch in his prime and he spent some time with Valencia while the pair were together at Villarreal.
Valencia only played two games for the Spanish club, but it doesn’t take long to be dazzled by the skills of Cazorla. We could watch compilation reels of him all day long.
CM: Juan Roman Riquelme
The number 10 role seems to be a dying art in the modern game, perhaps that’s one of the reasons he was overlooked in Valencia’s best team-mates XI.
CM: Bastian Schweinsteiger
There’s no doubt that Schweinsteiger was past the peak of his powers by the time he arrived at Old Trafford, but his legendary legacy has to be recognised.
Having won 18 trophies with Bayern Munich alone, the World Cup champion was a serial winner. He even managed to get his hands on the FA Cup and Europa League while in England with United.
LM: Diego Forlan
Okay, we are playing him slightly out of position, but there’s no way we could’ve left Forlan out is there? While Valencia didn’t spend much time with the Uruguayan forward, he is still a worthy inclusion.
Forlan was pretty much the only player who could tame the Jabulani back in 2010 and his outrageous collection of goals from that tournament is always worth a watch.
He was named the 2010 World Cup's top player 🏆
And it's not difficult to see why 😍
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) May 19, 2020
ST: Robin van Persie
Valencia won two Premier League trophies while at Old Trafford and he pretty much owes the second one to Van Persie. The Dutchman’s impact in 2012-13 was unprecedented.
Scoring 26 goals and winning the Golden Boot in the process, Van Persie was on a personal mission to deliver the league title that year.
ST: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Ibrahimovic was plenty of fun during his short stint at Old Trafford and despite not being in his peak, he still managed to impress. Scoring 29 goals in 53 appearances, he even managed to win three trophies alongside Valencia.