Last summer, after confirming promotion to the Premier League, Sheffield United were linked with a surprise Manchester United player.
More than a month before Dean Henderson would return to Bramall Lane from Man United on loan, the Blades were reportedly interested in Antonio Valencia.
It was already known that Valencia would be leaving Old Trafford when his contract expired at the end of June. This brought to an end a decade’s long stay with the Red Devils for the 34-year-old.
A number of clubs from the USA were also believed to be keen on Valencia, who had become recognised as a right-back having started his career as a winger.
It was easy to see why the Ecuador international was being linked with the Blades because of this. Their wing-back system had become well known in the Championship and Valencia would appear to fit in nicely on the right-side of that.
What happened after Valencia left Manchester United?
Somewhat unsurprisingly, the South American did not make the switch to South Yorkshire. Instead, Valencia returned to his home country and joined LDU Quito.
We wrote at the time about why he would not have been a good fit in Chris Wilder’s side. Wilder has shown that he likes to target relatively young players who can develop and improve.
Of the 14 players signed across two windows this season, only five are over the age of 25. Of those, only one is older than 30. That man is Phil Jagielka, who is a former Blade and nostalgically returned to his boyhood club.
Valencia was reported to be earning £100,000-a-week at Man United before he left as well. That sum is way out of the Blades’ budget.
What we weren’t to know at the time was quite how excellently George Baldock would take to top flight football. Baldock and Kieron Freeman had largely split game time at right wing-back in 2018/19.
Yet this term, the former has become the established first choice in the position. Baldock has played every minute of the league campaign so far, scoring two goals and providing three assists.