Manchester United will be able to make a saving of €4 million on the acquisition of Ander Herrera after they were able to activate his release clause before July 1. The club have agreed to pay €36 million for Herrera, but would have been required to spend more had the deal been done next week.
€40m release clause
Guillem Balague reports that Herrera’s contract with Athletic Bilbao stipulated that his buyout fee would rise to €40 million on the first day of this summer’s transfer window, but Manchester United have been able to act decisively enough to avoid footing that extra cost.
Manchester United’s failure to recruit Herrera last year, with the club apparently lacking knowledge of the complications regarding the player’s contract, was the nadir of a summer of numerous failed negotiations by Ed Woodward.
The Manchester United executive vice chairman, provided with names of several targets by then manager David Moyes, was only able to sign Marouane Fellaini, and that deal was the result of deadline day desperation as the club were forced to pay over the odds.
But it was the botched Herrera transfer that resulted in the most exasperation, as the pursuit of the 24-year-old midfielder descended into farce. Almost 12 months on, however, and Manchester United have their man.
Add to this the notable signing of Juan Mata in January for a club record deal, and Woodward deserves a great deal of credit having fairly attracted derision during his maiden transfer window as David Gill’s replacement.
After a myriad of misses in that forgettable summer, Woodward played a relative blinder when it came to the Mata signing. It was a slow burner that had begun months in advance after Chelsea had initially expressed a desire to sign Wayne Rooney.
As reported by The Guardian, this protracted transfer represented a game of cat and mouse as Woodward refused to directly engage with Chelsea due to their desire to discuss Rooney. But Woodward gradually positioned Manchester United as the frontrunners to sign Mata, and he was able to conclude a deal without ever getting around the negotiating table.
WATCH: Manchester United activate Herrera release clause
Great news for Manchester United
While the signing of Herrera will not be quite the coup that the recruitment of Mata was, it is evidence that Woodward will avoid the supposed panic buy mentality that that characterised the early months of his reign.
Twice in succession Woodward has acted determinedly after months of quiet work behind the scenes, and twice he has succeeded. And this is very good news for Manchester United and Louis van Gaal.