News that Manchester United have until 5pm on Friday 1st March 2019 to activate captain Antonio Valencia’s clause to keep him for another season means that it’s highly likely that the Red Devils will be seeing a brand new skipper appointed for the 2019/20 season.
Ecuador international Valencia is marking a decade at the club, but has made just eight appearances this season and hasn’t featured in the squad since their first game of 2019, a 2-0 win over Newcastle United.
The 33-year-old last signed a contract with Man Utd in 2017, but interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said that he is unsure if Valencia and the club will ‘agree on the next year’.
Valencia could end his career with United now after making close to 350 appearances, and as Solskjaer has correctly stated, is one of the last remaining Premier League winners in the dressing room.
He took over the armband from the great Michael Carrick after his retirement, becoming the first captain from outside Europe, and here are three potential candidates from the current United roster who could inherit the honour from him.
The current vice-captain, reviled by many a rival supporter for perceived bastardry, but beloved by United fans for his passion, commitment, and genuine devotion without added incentive. 100% given every time the Spaniard walks out onto the pitch. Would be a strong choice, leading in the heart of midfield.
September 2018. Jose Mourinho announces in front of the entire Manchester United that Paul Pogba will never be captain of the club again, the declaration coming after the Portuguese boss thought the Frenchman believed he was bigger than the club; a year previous Pogba had been favourite to take the armband from the departing Wayne Rooney.
Skip forward a little under six months. Mourinho’s gone, Pogba is the man left standing.
Since Mourinho’s departure, Pogba has arguably been the best player in the Premier League. Under Solskjaer, the 25-year-old has sizzled; eight goals and six assists in the Premier League since mid-December, and looking like a true World Cup winner and one worthy of his mammoth price-tag.
We also all remember the last time a Frenchman was awarded the captain's armband...
David De Gea
The greatest goalkeeper in the world is still in the midst of discussions with Man Utd to once again extend his tenure at the club he has been at the club since 2011. It’s laughable to remember how much rival supporters taunted the heir to Edwin van der Sar after his £18.9million move from Atletico Madrid (we’re looking at you City fans).
De Gea’s staggering development in Manchester has made him a world-beater and several torrid seasons for United in the post-Ferguson have had one constant to rely on: Dave Saves.
The recipient of the most Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year awards in the club’s history would be a worthy choice, as well as giving the 28-year-old an extra reason to see out his career in front of the fans who adore him most at the Theatre of Dreams.
An outside bet, but the Swede has certainly stepped up this season, and has delighted fans by controlling the Manchester United backline. Undoubtedly one of the first names on the teamsheet with the defence looking severely weaker without him. Finding a capable partner at centre-back is a must for the summer, but this has the potential to be a Vidic-esque appointment if he’s made captain.