Manchester United are poised to complete the €36 million signing of Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera after triggering the 24-year-old’s release clause. The Red Devils could announce the Spain Under-23 international’s signing as early as today after the player agreed a four-year deal worth €3 million-a-season.
This is according to multiple sources in Spain, including Marca, who all claim it’s now just a matter of time before Herrera becomes Louis van Gaal’s first signing as manager of Manchester United. The Dutch coach’s predecessor, David Moyes, attempted to sign the same player last summer - but the Scot’s efforts descended into farce after reports revealed fake lawyers had been negotiating the deal.
VAN GAAL GETS HIS MAN
Van Gaal, on arrival at Old Trafford, knew one of his priorities was to sign a top-class central midfielder - one to provide steel and, ideally, creativity too. Herrera ticks both boxes. The tactically-smart midfield ace was Athletic Bilbao’s best player last season, scoring five goals in 33 appearances to help the Basque club secure a top-four finish in La Liga.
Although Athletic Bilbao will be competing in next season’s Champions League campaign - and Manchester United, of course, won’t be - that has not stopped Herrera from agreeing to join the Premier League giants, who will offer him a significant pay rise to move to Old Trafford.
Van Gaal rejected the chance to sign Cesc Fabregas and Toni Kroos - from Barcelona and Bayern Munich, respectively - but it turns out the veteran Dutch coach had assigned United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward with the task of getting a deal for Herrera over the line.
Herrera rose through the ranks of Real Zaragoza before making his debut for the first team in 2009. He stayed with the Spanish club for two more seasons before securing a dream move to his hometown club Athletic Bilbao in 2011.
The tough-tackling midfielder - who was recently linked with Chelsea - has also represented Spain at Under-20, Under-21 and Under-23 level - but has yet to make his senior debut for La Roja. A big-money move to Old Trafford, combined with Spain’s capitulation at the World Cup finals in Brazil, could lead to more recognition and, subsequently, his senior debut with the reigning world and European champions.
MANCHESTER UNITED SIGN ANOTHER SPANIARD
Perhaps one of the reasons Herrera feels comfortable leaving Athletic Bilbao for Manchester United is the fact the Red Devils already have a couple of Spaniards at Old Trafford. David de Gea has blossomed into one of the world’s best goalkeepers since leaving Atletico Madrid in 2011, while Juan Mata has settled well after completing a club-record £37.1 million transfer from Chelsea last January.
The trio could all become important members of Van Gaal’s new-look Manchester United side. Other players are also expected to arrive before the start of the 2014-15 campaign, although the onus will continue to be on Woodward to complete deals in Van Gaal’s World Cup absence.
WHO WILL ARRIVE NEXT?
It seems certain that Southampton and England left-back Luke Shaw will join Manchester United following months of speculation. However, the Red Devils may need to pay a huge fee - in excess of £30 million - to sign the teenager.
It’s also been reported that Van Gaal is keen on Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger. However, it’s unclear whether United will continue to pursue the Germany international once Herrera has put pen-to-paper on his Manchester United contract.
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