Antonio Valencia agrees to a new long-term contract with Manchester United -- Chicharito may be next

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 16: Antonio Valencia of Manchester United is pursued by Gareth Barry of Manchester City during the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON semi final match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on April 16, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia appears to be on the verge of signing a new contract. Chief Executive David Gill has revealed that the Ecuadorian has come to an agreement with the club:

"We are in the process of finalizing that. Antonio has been away at the Copa America and we've been away here in the U.S. but that's broadly sorted out. Antonio initially signed for four years, so he's got two left. The length of the deal will come out as and when, but it's a longer-term deal. That should be announced next week, when we're back."

Source: Daily Mail

In addition, Gill hinted at the possibility that Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez will get a new deal as well during the upcoming and early stages of the English Premier League season. Earlier in the month, the club rewarded Chris Smalling with a new deal after an impressive debut season and they appear ready to do the same for the Mexican striker:

"He (Chicharito) came on a five-year-deal, as did Chris. We did Chris because there was a re-negotiation clause in his contract, which we would done anyway, if he met a certain number of appearances, which he did. There's no such clause in Javier's contract, but we want to address it when there is no pressure with regards to that issue, so we intend to do it in the autumn."

Gill on the future of Dimitar Berbatov after the jump...

The Bulgarian striker has a year left on his current contract but there is a club option to extend it by a year if United so desires. Here are some quotes from Gill in regards to Berbatov:

"There is an option to extend Dimitar's contract by another year, on the club's side. We can do it whenever we want to do it and there are no conditions around it. Everyone has been talking about Berbatov from the outside, saying he wants to leave or that we want him to leave, but we don't want him to go. We want him to stay. He scored over 20 goals last season, so there is no desire on our behalf to see him go. From our perspective he has, effectively, two years to go. We have until the end of the season (to extend his contract), so we can assess how it goes, talk to him, see how he performs and see what happens. I've not had one conversation with Dimitar (about his future). There has been no correspondence in that respect."

The news on Valencia certainly is good and it can also be an indication that the injury he suffered during Copa America is not anything serious that is being hidden. The winger is clearly seen as a foundation piece for the club and when healthy over the past two seasons, he regularly has been seen as first-choice on the right-flank. Valencia provides dangerous direct play down the touchline but also has the tactical awareness and ability to track back and defend against opposition full-backs that surge forward. United have three terrific young wingers in Valencia, Nani, and Ashley Young.

The inference on both Chicharito and Berbatov is interesting - the likely new contract for the former is an obvious benefit while what is best for club's future in regards to the latter is a bit more complicated. Berbatov, now being 30, certainly will return less and less on the £31 million that it took to bring him over from Tottenham Hotspur the longer United wait for him to be sold. One could logically conclude that the one-year extension on his contract will likely be extended - if not at least for the simple fact that it might allow United a bit more leverage over any negotiations over in a possible transfer fee. The co-Golden Boot winner from last season is certainly not the future but it still remains to be seen how much the Bulgarian is in the plans for United in the current moment. After his surprising omission from United's bench during May's Champions League final, it was widely speculated that Berbatov would be leaving Old Trafford prior to the upcoming season. Perhaps it is a testament to his character that he has returned humbly and with the intent to reclaim his spot as first-choice. With youngsters Federico Macheda, Danny Welbeck, and Will Keane all looking for regular time in the coming seasons, it is difficult to envision Berbatov sticking around longer than another season or two. In the mean time, while everything gets sorted out, let's all hope that Berba keeps bagging goals when he still is on the pitch in a United shirt.  

What are your thoughts? Does Berbatov deserve to have his contract extended? Share your thoughts below in the comments. 

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