Ander Herrera was on a private jet headed to London on Tuesday night to put the finishing touches to his €36million Manchester United transfer.
According to Spanish publication El Correo, the Athletic Bilbao playmaker was headed to the UK capital in order to complete the deal, which was widely reported in the British media earlier in the day.
The report claims only a few minor details, and a medical, need to be sorted before Herrera becomes a Manchester United player. The Spaniard's move was all but confirmed when it was reported that the Red Devils had decided to activate a release clause in his contract with the requisite €36million bid.
Herrera could well have made the move last summer but a series of bizarre reports, including one claiming imposters had made themselves out to be Manchester United officials, saw the attempt to bring him in descend into farce. It appears executive vice chairman Ed Woodward has decided to keep the second attempt to bring the 24-year-old to Premier League less public.
Herrera's imminent arrival is a much more positive start to the summer transfer window than last year, in which Woodward and then manager David Moyes were subject to significant criticism for failing to land a number of targets, including Herrera.
Marouane Fellaini was the only high-profile addition to the squad in a £27million deal from Moyes' former club Everton and his first season at Old Trafford was one to forget thanks to injury, a loss of form and the failure to settle into his preferred defensive midfield position.
Herrera is a diminutive attacking player who has starred in the Basque club's midfield since he was signed from Real Zaragoza in 2011 and a move to one of Europe's leading clubs has been expected for some time.
Manchester United really became aware of him in his first season at the Basque club when they put in a sensational display of high pressure, quick passing football in a 3-2 win at Old Trafford in the Europa League, but there are legitimate questions over them signing him now.
Do they need him?
Manchester United made their record transfer in the January transfer window when they signed Juan Mata from Chelsea in a £37.1million deal in a bid to address serious creativity issues in their midfield. Another diminutive Spaniard, Mata struggled to really fire after spending most of the season left on the bench by Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge, but he has proven quality in the Premier League.
Herrera is a talented schemer but he has struggled to get into the senior Spain squad with a host of attacking playmakers ahead of him, including Mata. He is an expensive risk because he could well struggle to adapt to the difference in pace and physicality between the Premier League and La Liga.
Lots of options
Van Gaal also has the likes of Wayne Rooney, Shinji Kagawa and Nani as creative forces in the final third, so you would expect at least one of them to be moved on this summer in response to Herrera's arrival. One may also question whether signing him is the choice of the Dutch coach, what with him being a major target for Moyes and the new boss currently concentrating on the Netherlands World Cup campaign.
Defensive midfield and central defence are areas where Van Gaal has more pressing worries, but there is still the rest of the summer to make those moves and the addition of a big-money signing would help to boost morale around the club and for supporters.
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Herrera is expected to be the first of a number of transfers for Manchester United this summer, as Van Gaal oversees an overhaul of the squad that failed miserably last season. Moyes was Sir Alex Ferguson's chose successor but he could not inspire them to the kind of football that his compatriot did for 27 years and it cost him his job before the season was out.
Fans and players will be hoping to bounce back this season under the new boss and will be desperate for at least a return to the top four and Champions League football after last season's miserable defence of their Premier League title saw them only able to finish seventh.
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