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After two seasons of being close but no cigar, Ander Herrera has finally found his feet under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho, living up to the £29 million billing United parted with to acquire his services.
The former Athletic Bilbao midfielder has starred in the middle of the park alongside Paul Pogba, even condescending the world record signing- albeit playing dissimilar roles.
His absence heavily felt
It was as such a calculated risk when Mourinho chose to rest the Spaniard against Bournemouth, bearing in mind the long trip to Russia for the Europa League coming only days before a decisive FA Cup tie away to Chelsea.
The deservedly rested Herrera was sorely missed during the 1-1 draw with the Cherries, as the pairing between Pogba and [Michael] Carrick was completely outclassed and outranked.
Carrick’s speed and agility let him down on the day while Pogba was more concerned about what he’ll be doing later in the evening: not once did he have his head in the game.
Offers exactly what United need
No doubt Herrera is a Spaniard- given his inbred technical ability and dreadful shooting from long range-, but his biggest strength has been the ability to collect the second ball and instigate attacks: exactly what United lacked in the mainstream.
Resolute in his passing and profound in reading the terrain, Ander Herrera has improved markedly from the past two seasons, with many suggesting his sheer passion and ability is sufficient for the captaincy.
Although the 27-year old has downplayed his chances of taking over the armband from Wayne Rooney- citing more deserving personalities in the dressing room ahead in the pecking order- the decision remains the gaffer’s.
All the same, the Manchester United supporters already know who they want.
Verge of contract extension
A voice in the back and a fan favorite on the turf, it would be distorted to jettison a player of Ander Herrera’s ability.
With only a year left on his current contract, talks have already begun behind closed doors to keep the Spaniard at Old Trafford until 2019: with the prospect of an extension for a further year.
For a player who has perfected the art of drawing fouls and is not afraid to get into the referee’s books for the cause, no doubt the faithful and Old Trafford would want him to stay for as long as he peaks.
Written by Brian Humphrey
Follow Brian on Twitter @brihum
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