Let’s not beat around the bush: Ander Herrera has virtually no chance of becoming Manchester United’s new Paul Scholes, even if the Spanish midfielder told the Manchester Evening News this week that he hopes to emulate the Red Devils’ legend.
This is no slight on Herrera, a talented and technically-gifted midfielder in his own right. The 25-year-old should aspire to reach the levels of the man who spent 22 years at Old Trafford before bringing an end to his illustrious playing career at the end of the 2012-13 campaign.
But Scholes is irreplaceable; a once-in-a-generation type player who made Manchester United tick season-in, season-out with his unparalleled ability to dictate the tempo of matches.
Scholes: United's peerless legend
There’s a reason why Scholes is considered by many to be the greatest central midfielder Manchester United have ever produced - and there’s also a reason why a long list of current and former greats have heaped praise on the former England international over the years.
That Zinedine Zidane named Scholes as his toughest ever opponent and Xavi described the Manchester United hero as the “most complete” central midfielder of the past 20 years speaks volumes about the extraordinary talent he possessed.
Scholes comparison unfair on Herrera
It’s simply not fair to expect Herrera to fill the cataclysmic void left by Scholes - just as it was unfair to expect the likes of Eric Djemba-Djemba, Liam Miller and Owen Hargreaves to fill the gaping hole left by Roy Keane in 2005.
Keane, like Scholes, was a one-off. Attempting to find a direct replacement was ultimately futile.
Nevertheless, Manchester United evolved post-Keane and went on to enjoy more success without the influential Irishman before Sir Alex Ferguson left Old Trafford in 2013.
United even recovered after Cristiano Ronaldo left the Red Devils for Real Madrid in 2009. Antonio Valencia may have paled in comparison to his world-class predecessor, but the Ecuador international exceeded expectations following his move from Wigan and even bagged himself the coveted No. 7 shirt previously worn by Ronaldo.
Herrera: The ultimate team player
It just shows the old adage that no player is bigger than the club is absolutely true - and this suits Herrera, the very definition of a real team player, down to the ground.
The modest Spaniard is no prima-donna and made it clear on arrival from Athletic Bilbao last summer that he wanted to fulfil his potential with United by working hard and winning titles.
Penny has dropped with Van Gaal
After a difficult start to his Manchester United career it seems the penny may have finally dropped with Van Gaal, who has inexplicably overlooked the dynamic central midfielder for much of the campaign.
Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo speculated last week that Herrera had struggled under Van Gaal this season because he is ‘too creative’ for the pragmatic Dutch coach.
Furthermore, they claimed, it was David Moyes who put in the groundwork to sign Herrera. Van Gaal merely gave the green light for the deal to be completed after signing his three-year contract as Manchester United manager last May.
Herrera can become a United great in his own right
But Herrera, who has scored three goals in his last three starts, is simply too good for Van Gaal to ignore.
It’s time to stop the search for the new Paul Scholes because Ander Herrera is here.
And while it’s safe to say he will never match the remarkable achievements of the Ginger Prince, there’s no reason why he can’t become a great player for the Red Devils in his own right.
Manchester United fans: can Ander Herrera match the achievements of Paul Scholes? How similar are the two players? Have your say in the comments below.
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