SLICK VIC’S GOING TO BE A HIT! Smalling backs Valdes to shine
MANCHESTER UNITED defender Chris Smalling is backing goalkeeping legend Victor Valdes to be a massive hit at Old Trafford.
Valdes signed an 18-month deal with United earlier this month after proving his fitness following knee surgery last year.
The former Barcelona No.1 – a three-times Champions League winner with the Catalans – is yet to figure for Louis van Gaal. But Valdes is set to make his debut in Friday night’s FA Cup tie at League Two Cambridge, with first choice David de Gea given a breather.
And Smalling reckons the Spain international, 33, still has a lot to offer – which could be crucial if United can’t convince De Gea to sign a new contract and opt to cash in on the 24-year-old with a big-money sale to Real Madrid. Smalling said: “He’s someone who we all look up to through what he’s achieved already in his career, but you can see he’s nowhere near done yet.
“On the training field he’s so sharp and you can see that he’s very agile.
“He’s such a great addition and is a name that really OUCH! Van Persie has not enjoyed the flak he’s had this season GLOVELY SIGHT: Smalling is impressed with Valdes’ attitude on the training pitch I’LL GET OFF: Fletcher is wanted by both West Ham and West Brom belongs here at Manchester United.
“We’ve heard a few stories from him and a few people have asked him questions.
“Barcelona is another great club and you want to get some insight of what happens.”
Smalling also raved about another high-profile import from Spain, describing Angel Di Maria as a “special player.” The ex-Real winger became the most expensive signing in British football history when he joined for £60million.
And Smalling insists the Argentina international, 26, is worth the money.
The England defender said: “I imagine Angel is a player any fan would want in their team and any player would want to play with. We were lucky enough to be able to get him. I remember seeing his matches for Real last season – he was up and down the pitch, creating so many goals. He is a special player.”
United striker Robin Van Persie has vowed to ignore the critics after a hit-and-miss first half of the season.
There are question marks over his form, with the ex-Arsenal man struggling to recapture the spark that saw him score 26 times as United won the title in 2013.
Van Persie said: “It’s not nice when you read those comments. It’s a bit ruthless at times.”
Darren Fletcher has been told he can leave United after fading out of the first-team picture.
West Ham and West Brom are leading the chase for the Scotland international midfielder.