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By ESPN Staff

Wigan complete permanent capture of Valencia

Wigan have completed the permanent signing of Ecuador winger Antonio Valencia.

The 21-year-old has agreed a three-and-a-half-year deal at JJB Stadium, subject to international clearance, and joins for an undisclosed fee from Spanish club Villarreal.

Valencia, who starred at the 2006 World Cup for his country, is halfway through his second season at the Lancashire club after joining on loan at the start of 2006/07.

Valencia becomes manager Steve Bruce's third signing of the transfer window following the captures of Wilson Palacios and Maynor Figueroa.

The South American has been on the pitch for every minute of every game since Bruce took charge in November, and the former Birmingham boss is delighted to have tied down a player he rates highly.

'I knew about him before I came to the club, but having seen him at close quarters these past few weeks, I now realise just how good he is and to get him signed permanently was one of my priorities,' Bruce told www.wiganlatics.co.uk.

'I felt it was important to get it done sooner rather than later.

'He is the sort of player who I believe can play a big role in the Premier League future of this club. He has pace, trickery, is strong as an ox and has a great work ethic. Plus he's a really likeable boy.

'Now that his future is sorted out, I want him to focus completely on his football and keep improving because I believe he has the potential to be a top, top player.'

Valencia claims he had no doubts about committing himself to Bruce's Premier League strugglers.

'I am really happy this has been sorted. I have always wanted to play in England and now that Wigan have given me the chance, I am happy to repay them by staying here,' he said.

'The Premier League is a fantastic place to play and I have really enjoyed working with Steve Bruce - you can see how the team is motivated now and I think he will be successful here in the seasons to come.

'I also thank the Wigan fans who often sing my name, which makes me really happy to be here.'