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Europa League round of 16 draw

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Trending: Man City edge Monaco in thriller


Perez deserves a first-team spot

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By ESPN Staff

Bruce to use Valencia funds to rebuild side

Wigan manager Steve Bruce has pledged to use money from the summer sale of winger Antonio Valencia to strengthen his squad for next season.

Bruce has been resigned to losing one of his most saleable assets for some time now but he expressed surprise at a reported £21m transfer fee, which Real Madrid are reportedly ready to pay.

Manchester United and Bayern Munich are also among the teams being linked with the 23-year-old.

Five months ago the Latics made a healthy £13m profit from the sale of Honduras midfielder Wilson Palacios, who cost them £1m in January last year.

Bruce said it was the way smaller clubs like Wigan had to operate, but that at least he could use the funds to make them stronger in the long run.

"Valencia's sale is inevitable. When you have five or six of the biggest clubs in the world after you it is very difficult for us to stand in the boy's way,'' he said.

"We will see what develops over the next few weeks - but I don't know where they get the £21m from.

"He has done fantastically well and if we do get big money for him the one thing we will try to do is reinvest it back in the squad and try to make it stronger and better if we can.

"No-one wants to lose their best players but we are realistic here. It is always a problem; it was a problem in January which I tried to fight off before I came to the conclusion I was swimming against the tide.

"We've got it again with Antonio but it is what it is, we understand we are Wigan and to make us bigger and better it is what we have to do. I don't think it affects the rest of the squad. The kid has had an outstanding season and an outstanding season last year.

"He has made himself one of the best right-sided players in the Premier League and with that comes a premium. He is 23 and although there is frustration as a manager you don't want to lose your top players but sometimes it has to be.''

One player not going anywhere is Titus Bramble, who has had probably the best season of his professional career at the heart of Wigan's defence.

The former Ipswich and Newcastle centre-back swept the board at the club's end-of-season awards after being named players', fans and media player of the year.

Bramble was also named the best player in away games, having already picked up the vote from Wigan's young fans.

The 27-year-old, who has played in all but three of Latics' league games and helped them to the ninth-best defensive record in the Barclays Premier League, is set to sign a new long-term contract with his current deal having just 12 months left.

"Titus has had a very good season. He has been terrific,'' added Bruce. "The boy has been instrumental in what we have done this year and he deserves the plaudits for that.

"Titus has had his critics in the past but his performances on the pitch this season have been there for all to see.''

Lee Cattermole, 21, won the young player of the year award in his first season since a £3.5m move from Middlesbrough.


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