Of all the world’s central midfielders Manchester United were linked with after Sir Alex Ferguson retired, there was only one they tried to sign twice.
Ander Herrera emerged as a leading target for David Moyes at the outset of his doomed tenure at Old Trafford, only for the club to botch the signing in the first of a long line of transfer failings with the Scot in charge.
After sacking the now Real Sociedad manager before the end of last season, the 2/5 top four shots returned to Athletic Bilbao with a bid for Herrera in the summer and succeeded.
Since then the Spanish pass master has had his Red Devils career stymied by injury, making just five appearances for Louis van Gaal this term and last turning out for the Dutchman in the 2-2 draw with West Brom in October.
When he’s featured, Herrera has impressed so the rumours surrounding his impending departure from the Theatre of Dreams seem misplaced, especially when they involve a swap deal with Bayern Munich’s Xherdan Shaqiri.
The one thing Van Gaal’s squad does not lack is wide men, with Angel Di Maria, Antonio Valencia, Adnan Januzaj and Ashley Young all vying to hug the touchline for the men in red.
However, what was abundantly clear even during Ferguson’s latter stages on the Manchester United bench was the need for a greater presence in the middle of the park.
Herrera, along with Daley Blind, has added that presence and the Bilbao native is rated among the top three Man United performers this season according to whoscored.com’s rating system.
While a player of obvious skill, bringing in Shaqiri at the 25-year-old’s expense seems like a backwards step for United rather than a forward one and the Swiss’ inability to regularly crack the Bundesliga giants’ first team indicates he could struggle to do the same in England.
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