Valencia close to Manchester United deal

Manchester United are inching closer to making Antonio Valencia their first signing of the summer.

The Wigan winger has cut his summer break short to try and complete his move to Old Trafford.

And the £16m deal is expected to be confirmed this week as Sir Alex Ferguson begins the task of spending the world record £80m fee United have just banked for the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo.

They hope Valencia, who scored just three Premier League goals last term, might be able to replicate the pace and dribbling ability of Ronaldo. However, getting anywhere near his goals output might be far more difficult, a factor emphasised at the JJB Stadium last month when the Ecuador flyer missed a sitter in the defeat to United.

Certainly most United fans - and probably Ferguson himself - would be disappointed if there were not further signings by September 1 given the problems he is juggling with.

As well as Ronaldo, the loss of Carlos Tevez, seemingly bound for rivals Manchester City, leaves another gap.

Karim Benzema has been touted as a potential replacement but has already given vibes he may prefer to go elsewhere, and even then in another year's time.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is another option but the Dutchman is more of a Ruud van Nistelrooy-type figure and Ferguson has been building his teams in a different way of late.

At the back of Ferguson's mind will also be the knowledge Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Edwin van der Sar are all preparing for what is expected to be their final season of top-flight action, with Gary Neville not far behind.

Twelve months ago, United appeared to have the replacements in place but doubts have emerged over Nani, Anderson and Ben Foster, leaving Ferguson with more big decisions to make.

There are further question marks over midfielder Owen Hargreaves, who is hoping to return from two years wrecked by a tendinitis problem, and record signing Dimitar Berbatov, who was inconsistent in his debut season.

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