Afforded his first Premier League start since Manchester United's home win over Liverpool, Ander Herrera put in an eye-catching performance at the weekend.
Before the start of the season, few predictions of United's strongest XI would have included the former Bilbao player.
Central options have revolved around the more powerful Morgan Schneiderlin and the already established Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Carrick.
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Out wide, Juan Mata has been one of the first names on the team sheet on the right, while Depay had been almost ever-present on the left until Saturday's trip to Goodison Park.
As a result of the depth of quality across the midfield, Herrera has had to be content with a place on the bench for much of the season. However, in his second season at the club, it is difficult to pinpoint a time when he has put in a bad performance.
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His 11 goals in 39 appearances for the club constitutes an excellent return from midfield and he offers a fantastic option for Van Gaal.
Although not physically imposing, he is capable of sitting in a central midfield role and displays a wide collection of passing. In addition, despite being far from being an out and out winger, he has enough pace to play on the right and track back for the team.
Principally, though, he is very effective in an advanced central role. His incisive passing offers quality service for the front men, while his knack for a goal was demonstrated with an excellent Scholes-esque run to find space in the box and finish with aplomb at Goodison.
Although not one of the first names on the team sheet, Herrera's instrumental performance at the weekend is a timely reminder to the boss of his capabilities.
His performances are consistently of a high standard and his commitment can rarely be questioned. He has significant competition to surmount if he is to become a mainstay in the United midfield, but he can certainly be considered one of Van Gaal's most reliable signings.
United travel to Moscow on Wednesday night and it would be no shock if Herrera produced another quality, gutsy and efficient display in the Russian capital.
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