14 years after leaving Ecuador for Europe, Antonio Valencia is back. The 33-year old Ecuadorian returns to his homeland, joining up with Liga de Quito following 10 years with Manchester United, including an extended spell as club captain.
📝🇪🇨🙌🏻 After 1⃣4⃣ years in Europe, including the last 1⃣0⃣ with @ManUtd , Antonio Valencia returns to Ecuador with @LDU_Oficial !
🏆 The 33-year old will feature in the #Libertadores for the first time since 2004! pic.twitter.com/nAehhtRWGz — CONMEBOL Libertadores (@TheLibertadores) July 2, 2019
Valencia’s arrival coincides with the 11 year anniversary of Liga de Quito’s triumph over Fluminense in the 2008 Copa Libertadores Final, the club’s only Libertadores title, and the only Libertadores success for an Ecuadorian outfit.
🇪🇨🙌🏻💪🏻 11 years ago today, @LDU_Oficial lifted the continental crown as they beat @FluminenseFC
on penalties to win the 2008 #Libertadores
🏆👏🏻 At a packed out Maracanã Stadium, keeper Cevallos saved three spot kicks, the final one from Washington. pic.twitter.com/iVVPWFmZ8l — CONMEBOL Libertadores (@TheLibertadores) July 2, 2019
The signing of Valencia is a statement of intent by Liga de Quito who will face Paraguayan side Olimpia in the Libertadores Round of 16. Liga qualified from a tricky Group D at the expense of Uruguayan giants Peñarol on the final night of group play after tallying a 4-0 win over San José de Oruro.
🎥🎉🇪🇨 Relive first the tension and then the ecstasy as @LDU_Oficial qualified for the Round of 16 with a 4-0 win over @CDSJoficial on Wednesday night in Quito! #CONMEBOLLibertadores pic.twitter.com/MqukuVoGmT — CONMEBOL Libertadores (@TheLibertadores) May 10, 2019
During the group stage, Liga’s attacking prowess drew the headlines, with the team’s 12 goals scored the second most of any side, trailing just Palmeiras. Anderson Julio led the way with three goals scored, all coming against San José de Oruro on the final night of the group stage.
Juan Anangonó tallied a pair of goals himself, as did the Colombian Cristian Martínez Borja. The Ecuadorian international Andrés Chicaiza also drew praise for his performances, including the go-ahead goal in a critical 2-1 win against Flamengo:
🔥⚽🇪🇨 Relive the excitement of @LDU_Oficial 's go-ahead goal against @Flamengo_en from last week, now with English commentary! #CONMEBOLLibertadores pic.twitter.com/z9WHeX36wk — CONMEBOL Libertadores (@TheLibertadores) April 30, 2019
The addition of Valencia adds another quality player to an already interesting mix for manager Pablo Repetto, himself well-known for an improbable run to the Libertadores final in 2016 with another Ecuadorian side in Independiente del Valle. Valencia has spent the last few years with Manchester used primarily as a full back, but still possesses the abilities necessary to affect the game further forward on the pitch.
His positional versatility will be an asset for Repetto, who could elect to play him further forward on the wing at points, while asking him to defend more as a traditional full back at other times. Perhaps Repetto will even deploy Valencia in both roles over the course of a single match depending on game situations.
On the pitch, Valencia will be a strong addition to this already talented Liga de Quito team, but he will no doubt be an asset off it as well with his wealth of experiences sure to be beneficial to his side. Valencia appeared 338 times for Manchester United in 10 years, and has also collected an impressive 82 caps for Ecuador over the course of his career. At Manchester United, Valencia won a pair of Premier League titles, a trio of Domestic Cups, and a Europa League title. Those sorts of experiences will benefit Valencia massively as he embarks on the new challenge of trying to lift the Libertadores trophy in Santiago on November 23rd.
CONMEBOL Libertadores Round of 16: Liga de Quito vs. Olimpia
Leg 1: 23 July, Quito, 19:30 (ECU) 00:30 (GMT)
Leg 2: 30 July, Asunción, 20:30 (PAR) 00:30 (GMT)