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United close in on Antonio Valencia

Manchester United look set to make an official offer for Wigan and Ecuadorian winger Antonio Valencia. The 23-year-old is being touted as one of the possible replacements for Cristiano Ronaldo and Lactics chairman Dave Whelan expects United to open talks about a move later this week.

"They have been in touch with us and we will be starting negotiations very shortly, I would imagine," said Whelan. "If Antonio says he wants to go to Manchester United and we get the right fee, the deal will be done."

According to a number of back pages this morning the two clubs have already agreed a fee said to be worth £17.5m. Whelan continued: "United have been in touch with us over Antonio for the last two or three months, expressing an interest and actually putting cash offers on the table. Those things have got to be picked up now. I think they were waiting to see if Ronaldo actually went to Real."

Just as Ronaldo was left to fill the Number 7 shirt left vacant by David Beckham back in 2003, Valencia will have the difficult task of trying to replace a player who the pundits have claimed is irreplaceable.

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