New Manchester United signing Ander Herrera could be integrated into the Spanish squad for future tournaments as Vicente del Bosque’s side look to rebuild in the aftermath of their disastrous World Cup.
The 24-year-old, who had been linked with a move to Old Trafford for well over a year, became the first signing of the Louis van Gaal era after leaving Atletico Bilbao for around £29million.
He will be charged with bringing creativity and defensive qualities to a midfield worryingly bereft of both, and is expected to be a constant fixture in the team ahead of the likes of Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini and Tom Cleverley.
In spite of their woeful campaign in Brazil, Spain boast a greater number of midfield options. That Xavi is expected to retire from the international stage will leave a significant gap in the heart of the team, as too could the potential exit of Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso.
Del Bosque’s failure to integrate the younger players in the squad was cited as a major factor in their surprise group stage exit, and the former Madrid manager could now respond by giving the next generation a chance. Herrera would be part of that, and, though uncapped for the senior team as yet, has represented his country at both under 20 and under 21 level.
Del Bosque, if he is deemed fit to remain in the job, will find him hard to overlook if Herrera begins to transform United’s fortunes under the stewardship of Van Gaal, and could pair him with either Thiago Alcantara of Bayern Munich or Koke of Atletico Madrid in the foreseeable future.
That the former Bilbao man is close with the Spanish contingent at United could also aid his cause. David de Gea and Juan Mata both had minimal roles in Brazil, but are two players that also could be used to help defend the European Championship trophy in two years’ time.
Replacing Xavi is no easy task, given the pivotal role he has played in delivering three pieces of silverware in the last six years. The whole footballing world will mourn when the Spaniard announces his retirement from the game, whatever club he shall end it at.
But Herrera has enough quality and the ability to not only replace the Barcelona man, but become a big hit at United. David Moyes tried to bring him to Old Trafford on transfer deadline day last year, but was forced to settle for Fellaini instead in a move that turned many of the United faithful against him.
Yet there will be no repeat under Van Gaal. In signing the midfielder, it is a sign that United are on the up again.
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