How good is Hector Herrera – An expert insight from Mexico

by Sam Peoples

Manchester United have been heavily linked with 22-year-old Pachucha midfielder Hector Herrera in the past week. The youngster has gone from just another footballer to one of Mexico’s brightest talents in an extremely short space of time. His performances at Mexico’s gold medal winning London 2012 Olympics has landed him firmly in the spotlight.

After reading Duncan Tucker’s original article on Herrera (see here), I sat down with him to try and get an insight into how good Hector Herrera really is and why Manchester United and other clubs may well be chasing his signature.

1. First of all – can you introduce yourself to the readers.

My name is Duncan Tucker and I am a British journalist based in the Mexican city of Guadalajara. I cover a mix of news and sports, including Mexican football for Soccer365.com. Most of my work can be found on my blog, the Tequila Files (www.duncantucker.wordpress.com). I’m a big Spurs fan and follow the Premier League religiously.

2. What type of midfielder is Herrera? Is he the box-to-box midfielder United crave?

I think United need someone with a bit of aggression in the middle of the park. It’s been missing ever since Roy Keane left.

He’s not the finished article yet but he could become just what United need. He’s versatile, which is something that Alex Ferguson clearly values in his players. He can sit comfortably in front of the defence but he’s also an incisive passer and will make runs forward and link up with the attack. He has great stamina and never seems to stop running.

He’s not much of a goalscorer but I think United are pretty well covered in that department.

He puts in a lot of tackles and his disciplinary record may be a cause for concern. He’s picked up eight yellow cards and two reds in just 27 games for Pachuca.

3. At 22 years old, he is relatively young and having played only 2,000 minutes in the Mexican Premier League, is he ready to make the big move to England?

It’s hard to say. Chicharito was also just 22 when he moved to England and he adapted remarkably quickly to the Premier League, quicker than anyone in Mexico had expected. I do think Herrera would benefit from playing some more first-team football in Mexico before making the move, so it would probably be best for him to return to Pachuca on loan for the remainder of the Mexican league, which ends in December.

4. A fee of €13.5m has been touted by media outlets and quotes have circulated that, if bought, Herrera would be loaned back to Pachucha until December. Do you believe this to be the case?

€13.5m would a record transfer in Mexican football and I wouldn’t be surprised if the actual figure is lower than that.

As I said I think the loan deal makes sense for everyone involved. Herrera’s currently sidelined with a minor knee injury so he’d be better off regaining full fitness and form in Mexico and then making the move. The fee of €13.5m sounds like a lot to me for someone so young and inexperienced.

Herrera in action at the Olympics with Brazil’s Marcelo

5. How important was Herrera to Mexico’s Olympic gold medal? Did he play a major role?

He played an important role, but the key to Mexico’s success was their unity as a team. This was especially evident in the final, when they outplayed a Brazil side that was full of highly talented individuals such as Neymar, Hulk, Oscar and Damiao, who did not gel together as a team.Herrera was certainly one of Mexico’s most important players. He helped the team gel by breaking up play, making runs and distributing the ball well. He was well disciplined and provided balance alongside some of the more attacking players.

6. If you could sum up Herrera’s style of play in five words, what would they be?

Energetic, determined, strong, versatile, passer.

7. United fans will of course know Javier Hernandez. Is this a golden generation for Mexicans? They did quite well for themselves in the Olympics.

Absolutely. Mexico is full of talented young players right now. In the last 14 months alone, Mexico has won the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the Under-17 World Cup, the Panamerican Games, the Olympic Games and the Milk Cup. Mexico also won the Under-17 World Cup in 2005 and finished 3rd in last year’s Under-20 World Cup.Established players like Javier Hernandez, Giovani Dos Santos, Carlos Vela and Carlos Salcido are considered part of a “golden generation” here, while a lot more exciting young talent has emerged in the past year. Through their success in youth tournaments, these players have built up a winning mentality previously absent in Mexico. I think they will be dark horses in the Brazil 2014 World Cup and a place in the semi finals could be a realistic aim.

One name in particular to look out for is Marco Fabian, a 22-year-old midfielder for Chivas de Guadalajara. Fabian was a member of the Olympic squad and scored two stunning goals when Chivas beat Barcelona 4-1 in a friendly last year. He’s sure to move to a big European side within the next year or so.

A big thanks to Duncan for taking the time to answer these questions. Be sure to follow Duncan and The Peoples Person for all the latest news, views and transfer updates.

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