Manchester United have signed Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera for a reported £29m. The 24-year-old, who joined Athletic in 2011, will sign a four-year contract after his release clause was triggered by United.
Herrera has become Louis Van Gaal’s first signing as Manchester United manager and he is exactly the sort of the player the club needs. Manchester United have lacked a real energetic force in the midfield over the last few seasons and Herrera provides exactly that. He’s been arguably one of the best midfielders in La Liga over the last two or three seasons. Herrera has variety in his play and his passing range is as impressive as any.
Speaking to the media, Manchester United assistant manager Ryan Giggs said: “We believe him to be one of the brightest young prospects in Spain. I’m looking forward to seeing him in action on our summer tour to America.”
Herrera should compliment his compatriot Juan Mata in the midfield well; the former Valencia midfielder struggled when he first arrived at Manchester as he found it difficult to adapt to playing on the wing to accommodate Wayne Rooney.
The signing of Herrera could see him move to the number 10 position, while Rooney may get the chance of playing as a partner to Robin van Persie, who will hope to capture the form he showed in his first season with the Red Devils.
The signing of Ander Herrera may spell the end for players such as Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher. Both occupy a similar position to Herrera, and given Van Gaal’s past, he’s likely to go with youth. While both do have a lot more experience of Premier League football, Herrera adds a certain dynamism that they can’t as they enter the twilight years of their careers.
Ander Herrera will hope he can impress the Spanish national team as the current European champions enter a transition period for the Euro 2016 qualifiers. The imminent retirement of Xavi may see Andres Iniesta lose his place in the national team, and this should open up the way for Herrera to stake his claim to become a permanent fixture in the new manager’s plans.
He’s already proved he can do it on a weekly basis in La Liga and he’s shown he can also perform in an international tournament, albeit for the Under-21s. If he delivers at his new club, Herrera should be given a chance on the international stage.
What this move does show is Manchester United still have the pull-factor. Despite Bilbao qualifying for the Champions League, Herrera has come to Manchester United to help the club regain a place in the competition. With him in the midfield, they have an excellent chance, provided he settles into English football quickly.