In a little more than 90 days, the suspense surrounding Ander Herrera will fizzle out. It’s either the Basque native remains in Manchester or moves elsewhere. Paris is the likeliest destination. If that happens, it’s best for all parties.
Herrera is out of contract at the end of the season. Talks over another have been ongoing since last summer and the club are so far refusing to meet his hefty wage demands. PSG are ready to pounce, conscious he would be available on a free transfer – a relatively low-cost midfield option.
The Herrera impasse is another instance of how Alexis Sanchez’s exorbitant £500,000 a week deal has compromised the wage structure at Old Trafford. United are keen to hold on to the Spaniard yet reluctant to offer such a significant increase to a player who clocks 30 in August.
It’s a similar ugly cycle with Juan Mata. The ex-Chelsea midfielder, also a free agent in the summer, turned down the club’s one-year extension. Compatriot David de Gea is seeking parity with Sanchez too. The shot-stopper demands double his existing £240,000 a week deal but the club is yet to dance to his tune.
On the surface, selling Herrera appears harsh. He’s worked for an extension and certainly deserves it. His passion, love, spirit and energy for the game and Manchester United is clear to see. It is also a rare sight in modern day football.
Herrera arrived in England in 2014, barely a year after three imposters tried to sign him, claiming to represent Manchester United. But it was Louis Van Gaal who officially brought him to the club from Athletic Bilbao.
The passionate midfielder struggled to nail down a regular place under the Dutchman. He showed glimpses of his talent. It was as though Herrera hadn’t found his best position. Until Jose Mourinho came along.
Herrera started in six of 10 Premier League appearances with Mourinho this term but has failed to make United’s XI in only one of his nine leagues games under Solskjaer.
His intensity in winning the ball back is integral to how Solskjaer wants United to play. The Bilbao-born midfielder matches the pressing done by the forward players to eventually force the opposition into a mistake – then the counter attack starts.
Yet ending his five-year spell at the club this summer could potentially be shrewd. Aside from his usual dedication, ability to read opponents, regain possession and move it on, Herrera doesn’t offer anything extra. He is simply good, not exceptional. He’s absolutely lovely, but he’s not world-class. He’s barely even great.
Ed Woodward is clearly regretting throwing that much cash on Sanchez. He’s striving to return to the status-quo. To erase the whole Sanchez debacle, United must start on a clean slate. The Chilean will have to leave in the summer. Contract rebels too should follow.
PSG offers everything: regular football, luxury and silverware. A long-term contract worth £150,000 per week at the Parc des Princes is tempting for a player on the brink of turning 30. This is a litmus test for Herrera’s commitment to the Red Devils.
The Parisians, meanwhile, have nothing to lose. The Spaniard is a cheap quality replacement for the departing Adrien Rabiot. Although they already signed Leandro Paredes from Zenit St. Petersburg in January, Herrera appeals to a club hoping to save funds.
Written by Toby Prince
Follow Toby on Twitter @prinzToby
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