Athletic Bilbao president Josu Urrutia has accused new Manchester United signing Ander Herrera of betraying his former club before making his Old Trafford switch.
Quotes gathered from ITV claim indicate that Urrutia was led to believe the Basque-born defensive midfielder would be staying in Spain for the foreseeable future, not agreeing to become Louis van Gaal’s maiden signing with his new team. Herrera completed a £29million switch to the former Premier League champions last week, and in doing so kick-started United’s summer squad revamp.
However Urrutia, very much echoing the statements of disappointment which oozed from Bilbao on the day Herrera confirmed his move to English football, claimed that he felt deceived by the his former player’s actions.
“For us, Ander Herrera was a player we expected to stay at the club," Urrutia said.
"According to what he said, Ander was delighted to be here and his only aspiration was to stay here."
Urrutia’s comments very resolutely state that he believed United’s flagship signing was set to snub them in order to stay in Spain, and was therefore confident of the potential deal falling through, as it did last summer.
Hanging onto Herrera
Due to Bilbao’s tradition of fielding Basque-only players it makes sense that the club were trying to ward off interest in arguably their best player. United came knocking last year whilst under the tutelage of David Moyes, but a deal wasn’t pushed through before the end of the transfer window, meaning that Herrera remained in La Liga.
Having amassed 128 appearances over three seasons at the San Mames, the 24-year-old had established himself as a pivotal player for manager Ernesto Valverde, and they will duly struggle to replace him.
Role for United
One would expect Herrera to walk into United’s midfield considering how poor its fortunes were last season, and the rumours are that Van Gaal is now looking to acquire a combative ball-winner to partner him with. Given the waning form of Michael Carrick, and the lack of impact on Marouane Fellaini's part, Herrera will no doubt take up an important mantle in the middle of the park, and could even be seen as a potential long-term replacement for Paul Scholes.
The start of something new?
Herrera’s decision to take United up on their offer shouldn’t be understated, as a growing amount of European stars had previously made it known that they didn’t see their futures at Old Trafford. The lack of Champions League football was obviously always going to be a hurdle for Van Gaal to navigate as he attempted to secure big names, but in many ways Herrera may well have been the marquee name needed to instigate a large scale influx of top players.