- - -
Ander Herrera looks set to be heading to Manchester United this summer, with the Red Devils ready to pay his £28 million release clause to bring him to Old Trafford by the end of the month, before his contract dictates that it leaps to £32 million.
It has been no big secret that United have been looking to heavily strengthen their squad over the course of the summer after suffering a season to forget under the stewardship of David Moyes, finishing in seventh position in the Premier League and failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 18 years.
Louis van Gaal is the man to take over the reins once he has concluded his World Cup campaign with Netherlands and he has already set his sights on a number of players, with a list of targets having reportedly been handed to his employers at United.
Rumours have circled linking United with a number of different players, but it is the midfield that has brought the most intrigue, with a host of star names right across Europe slated to be the man to to help fire the Red Devils back up the table.
Cesc Fabregas was rumoured to be on the list before joining Chelsea instead, while the pursuit of Toni Kroos also found little reward, so there is reason to suggest that Ander is not exactly the first-choice option for United this summer, despite his fine role in Athletic Bilbao's surge towards a fourth-place finish in La Liga and a place in next season's Champions League.
Ander had another season to remember after being initially tracked last summer by United in somewhat farcical circumstances, and while missing out on a place in Spain's World Cup squad does not give him the profile that a number of the other men linked with United possess, he has still proven an integral member of his club side.
Ander created 53 chances for Athletic throughout the season to claim five assists, and compared with other reported United targets in Fabregas, Kroos, Jordy Clasie and Kevin Strootman, this has made him one of the more accomplished midfield creators in Europe, with only Fabregas having created more this season.
When looking at the stats per 90 minutes, only Strootman is able to better him having missed a sizable chunk of the season with a knee injury, with Ander having created 1.86 chances for every 90 minutes of action over the past campaign.
Only Fabregas can top Ander in terms of goals scored, with the Basque midfielder having netted five times for a more limited side than the now-Chelsea man's Barcelona team of last season, with Clasie and Kroos having only managed three between them.
However, with United having lacked a little bit of bite in midfield throughout the season gone by, Ander could be the perfect man to come in to their ranks, with his 75 successful tackles coming at a highly impressive 2.64 victories in the challenge for every 90 minutes played.
It was clear to every man and his dog that United's main weak point last season was their midfield, with their options in the centre of the park providing neither creativity going forward, nor a resolute shield defensively.
In comparison to some of the other players linked with a move to Old Trafford, Ander appears to be the perfect man for the job for United, excelling at both ends of the pitch to drive his limited Athletic side on to a perfect domestic finish.
He is no jack of all trades, but almost the complete midfielder and while Manchester United may not have made him their number one target, they may have actually stumbled upon the perfect man to give them the drive and desire to reach the elite level again.
- Sports & Recreation
- Manchester United
- Ander Herrera
- Cesc Fabregas