Manchester United manager David Moyes is planning a return bid for Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera once the transfer window opens again in January, according to a report from John Edwards in the Daily Mail.
Herrera was a major target for the Red Devils in the final days of the summer window, only for the two clubs to fail to agree a fee on the final day of the window—with latest reports suggesting a tax issue with the player's buyout fee having caused the breakdown, as reported by David Maddock of the Mirror.
Moyes, though, has confirmed that he still holds an interest in Herrera: "‘I really liked the player and still do. We were trying to do a deal but I just thought the buy-out figure was the wrong valuation."
The reasons for liking Herrera are clear, with the Basque midfielder having long been regarded as one of the top midfielders in La Liga.
Manchester United fans will remember his starring role against the club in the 2011-12 Europa League, and while he may not be worth the €36 million buyout fee at present, he almost certainly will be in the long term.
Ander Herrera: Was fouled more times than any other player in La Liga last season (107)— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) September 2, 2013
As has come to be expected from Spanish midfielders, he is comfortable on the ball and takes control of attacking situations for Athletic from his position at the tip of a central midfield trio.
However, he is not reluctant to do his required defensive work and has been a key figure within Bilbao's high-pressing style under Marcelo Bielsa.
Ander Herrera won more tackles last season (90) than Premier League trio Frank Lampard Jack Wilshere and Yaya Toure combined (83) (@Squawka)— Get Football News (@GetFootballNews) September 2, 2013
Although it would be expected that the 24-year-old midfielder would have made strides at international level if he were really worth the fees quoted in recent days, it must be remembered that Spain have almost unprecedented depth in midfield areas.
Another United target from earlier this summer, Thiago Alcantara, is further proof of the difficulties faced by young Spanish midfielders, having made just three international appearances at the age of 22—despite being acknowledged as a truly outstanding midfield talent.
With the powerful Marouane Fellaini now on the books at Old Trafford, where he will likely sit in midfield alongside Michael Carrick, Moyes will look to Herrera to be the chief playmaker for his side.
Both Shinji Kagawa and Wayne Rooney will feel it is a role that they could play, but both are most effective when allowing someone else to take the burden of creative responsibility.
Ander Herrera is as close you get to a modern, dynamic central midfielder. Intelligent, good on the ball, well-built, creates and defends— Tor-Kristian Karlsen (@karlsentk) September 1, 2013
Bringing in Herrera will mean Rooney does not drop so deep in search of the ball, while Kagawa can look to feed off his colleagues in and around the penalty area. It is in the final third where Kagawa must operate if United are to bring out the best of his abilities.
Should Herrera eventually join in January, Manchester United will be a better side. There will be regret at Old Trafford that they were unable to bring him in over the summer, but it appears they plan to act swiftly to rectify the mistake.
He may not be worth €36 million yet, but if he can become central to the Manchester United side, his addition could prove an invaluable piece of business.