Ryan Giggs believes Manchester United have secured the acquisition of one of the best young players in Spain, after the club confirmed the signing of Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao, almost a year after they failed in their initial pursuit of the player.
Manchester United get a midfielder at last
The proposed deal had appeared a certainty up until Thursday morning, when Athletic claimed they had rejected an offer for Herrera from Manchester United. However, that soon changed later in the day with the Basque club stating Herrera was free to leave Bilbao, while the reported fee is £32 million.
Herrera was initially identified as a Manchester United target during the David Moyes tenure, with the executive vice chairman Ed Woodward going “all in” to sign the player on the final day of last summer’s transfer window.
But rather than becoming the first notable signing of the Moyes era at Old Trafford, Herrera is the maiden recruit made under Louis van Gaal. Working alongside Van Gaal when he arrives will be Ryan Giggs, who performed his first official duties as assistant manager to welcome Herrera in a club statement.
Herrera earns Giggs praise
"Ander is a fantastic young player, with great energy and creativity,” Giggs said.
“We believe him to be one of the brightest young prospects in Spain and I am certain he will be a big hit with the United fans.
“I’m delighted he has made the decision to come to Manchester and play his part in the club’s future. I’m looking forward to seeing him in action on our summer tour to America.”
The right man?
Manchester United finally have what they have strived to recruit for some time - a midfield player well versed in ball retention, able to quickly recycle possession and find the feet of the forwards.
But while the 24-year-old may have earned the praise of Giggs and while most Manchester United fans will coo over their latest signing, there is no escaping the fact that Herrera was anything but their first choice.
He may be among the “brightest young prospects in Spain” but Manchester United have, over the past 12 months, pursued at least three players they believed would be more suitable. First there was Thiago Alcantara, then Cesc Fabregas, then Toni Kroos, and finally Herrera.
Then came Fabregas again but he chose a transfer to Chelsea, while the interest in Herrera only appeared to be revived once Manchester United finally abandoned hope of being able to emerge triumphant in the pursuit of Kroos.
Watch: Ander Herrera passes Manchester United medical
Herrera is clearly an excellent player; he possesses the attributes Manchester United require and has the credentials to be a success during his time with the club. It is a good signing and one that fans are rightly excited about.
But it is also clear that he is not the player Manchester United set out to sign when initially outlining their key targets for this summer transfer window, and one would expect most supporters would still rather they had Fabregas or Kroos over Herrera.