Almost a year on from the transfer deadline fiasco that characterised David Moyes’ first and only summer in charge, Manchester United have signed Ander Herrera.
He’s a fantastic player and those that have watched him in action would agree but for those that haven’t, here’s some insight into why Herrera will be a great midfielder for United.
A dynamic midfielder, capable of creating chances, Herrera averaged just under seven assists a season over the last three campaigns with Athletic Bilbao and he is not afraid to shoot either as he averaged over two shots a game last season which helped him score five in 33 league appearances.
Very much so, Herrera fits the prototype of the modern Spanish midfielder.
The 24-year-old is an attacking midfielder by trade but he’s just as comfortable when deployed in a deeper role, the sort of position from where Xavi has been pulling Barcelona’s strings for a decade. That is a factor that has undoubtedly been taken into consideration by Louis van Gaal given the abundance of choices United have in the No. 10 position.
Perhaps more importantly, Herrera is already familiar with the importance of playing in a team with a clear football philosophy which United will be under Van Gaal, and Herrera rose to prominence during the 2011-12 season when under the expert guide of Marcelo Bielsa, when his philosophy dictated everything that Athletic did.
Herrera’s creativity and vision impressed Sir Alex Ferguson as Athletic dismantled United in the Europa League in March 2012 on their way to the final but for all his flair and technique, the Bilbao-born midfielder has developed a reputation for being a tough customer and has picked up 34 yellow cards and two reds since joining Athletic in 2011, after two years with Real Zaragoza.
The Aragonese club was crucial in Herrera’s development as he spent five years in Zaragoza academy before making his professional debut in 2009, following in his father’s footsteps who was a midfielder himself, Pedro Maria Herrera, who scored 18 goals in 155 appearances with Zaragoza between 1982 and 1988.
Having represented Spain at Under-20/21/23 level, he was part of Spain’s Olympic squad at London 2012 and scored against England in the first game of the 2011 Under-21 European Championship.
Herrera is still to win his first full cap for Spain but with La Roja’s winning cycle coming to and end and the likes of Xavi and Xabi Alonso possibly heading for retirement, his chance doesn’t seem too far away.