United land 16m Valencia now Benzema's on the radar

MANCHESTER UNITED last night clinched the signing of Antonio Valencia &ndash; and then set their sights on completing a &pound;51m double raid to add Karim Benzema.<br /><br />Ecuador winger Valencia made the switch from Wigan after putting pen-to-paper on a four-year deal believed to be worth around &pound;16m.<br /><br />Now, with &pound;80m at his disposal following the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Mardid, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is closing in on a &pound;35m deal to land Lyon striker Benzema, that according to the Frenchman&rsquo;s club-mate Miralem Pjanic.<br /><br />Ferguson has been tracking the winger for some time but finally announced his signing on the club&rsquo;s website last night &ndash; and the Scot is clearly happy with his purchase.<br /><br />&ldquo;Antonio is a player we have admired for some time now, having spent the last two years in the Premier League with Wigan,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I am sure his pace and ability will make a significant contribution to the team.&rdquo;<br /><br />Valencia, 23, has played 34 times for his country and soon became an instant hit at the JJB Stadium after Steve Bruce lured him from Villarreal in January 2008.<br /><br />He beamed: &ldquo;I have enjoyed my time at Wigan, but I am thrilled to have the chance to challenge for the biggest honours in club football here.<br /><br />&ldquo;Playing in front of 76,000 fans alongside players like Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs will be an amazing experience. I can&rsquo;t wait to get started.&rdquo;<br /><br />According to Lyon ace Pjanic, however, Ferguson&rsquo;s spending has not stopped there with the Bosnian claiming that a deal for Benzema is already in place.<br /><br />&ldquo;Benzema is nearly gone to Old Trafford,&rdquo; Pjanic said openly. &ldquo;The English club are willing to pay &euro;45m for him and it is just a question of the day when he will move to England. He does not have anything against going to Manchester.&rdquo;