Manchester United may be set to complete the first signing of the Louis van Gaal era at Old Trafford, but the acquisition of Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao will be confirmed thanks to the work of the Dutchman’s predecessor, David Moyes.

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Clause activated

Herrera’s €36 million release clause has been activated and the 24-year-old midfielder has already undertaken a medical, while personal terms have been agreed. Manchester United are expected to announce the signing imminently.

But, had the club held on for another week, then they would have been required to outlay a significantly higher transfer fee, with Herrera’s buyout clause set to increase from the beginning of July.

It was initially reported by Guillem Balague that Manchester United would have need to pay an extra €4 million had they formalised interest on or after July 1, while Graham Hunter has since claimed the release fee would have actually risen to €42 million.

Moyes received important information

As Hunter details in a column for ESPN, this was information initially relayed to Moyes during his pursuit of Herrera, who was wanted 10 months ago, and the then Manchester United tactician fed this back to chief negotiator, executive vice chairman Ed Woodward.

Herrera had been on the radar of Moyes prior to his move at Manchester United, with the Scotsman having monitored the Basque midfielder while he was in charge at Goodison Park, but his priorities were elsewhere upon arrival at Old Trafford.

Moyes was known to have been interested in Thiago Alcantara and then Cesc Fabregas, and it was not until the final day of the summer transfer window that Manchester United decided, as Hunter reports, to go “all in” for Herrera.

Watch: Manchester United activate Herrera release clause

Another Herrera move was in Moyes' plans

They failed in this pursuit, of course, and Athletic and the player were somewhat deterred by the rushed manner in which Woodward attempted to complete the transfer. But another approach always appeared to be in the mind of Moyes when the opportunity would again arise.

Moyes himself received the indication that Herrera would cost €42 million if Manchester United did not act decisively enough, and duly told Woodward with a renewed attempt seemingly in his plans. Three weeks later and Woodward terminated Moyes’ contract.

Manchester United now have Herrera and Woodward earns some deserved credit for getting the transfer done, while Van Gaal has his maiden signing of this new era. But were it not for Moyes then this is a deal that may have ended on August 31 last year.

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