The more you watch Herrera, the more you can understand why United management thought about signing him, but hesitated when Bilbao pointed to Herrera's £29.9 million buyout clause, per Jamie Jackson at the Guardian.
Herrera combines flair with belligerence which was on show in a 1-1 draw against Real Madrid. He led the game in dribbles (four), yet his persistent fouling (conceded five free-kicks) was Lucas Leiva-esque.
Os quejáis de que Ander Herrera no viera amarilla. Yo, sin embargo, prefiero quedarme con su exhibición pic.twitter.com/jutFC7tqXp— Jorge (@quillobarrios) February 3, 2014
What you like about Herrera is his all-round game: He can tackle, take on players, cut off passes and is a team-orientated player.
What you don't like about Herrera is his inconsistency.
For such a technically skilled player, he is ninth at the club in pass completion percentage (81.4) and there are 29 players in La Liga who make more key passes per game (1.5+) than Herrera (1.4).
Either retain possession passing the ball conservatively, so a teammate can make something happen, or take charge and be a facilitator of goals—Herrera is neither.
He is an aggressive footballer, at times an overzealous tackler, who would revel in the frenetic pace of the English Premier League.
Though, he is not worth £29.9 million.
If United were to target a Bilbao player in the summer transfer window, it should be Ibai, a 24-year-old left attacking midfielder.
Immediate Ibai Impact
When Bilbao drew 1-1 against Real Madrid, Ibai was subbed on for Iker Muniain 72 minutes and 22 seconds into the game.
Ibai hammered a shot past Real goalkeeper Diego Lopez after an errant header from Sergio Ramos at 72 minutes, 48 seconds.
Talk about immediate impact.
Ibai demonstrated elusiveness to get free of Real central midfielder Angel Di Maria's marking (no, that is not a typo, Di Maria played as a central midfielder that game).
Ibai anticipated Ramos's ineffective clearance and showed world-class technique in volleying the ball with accuracy and velocity past Lopez (the left post also helped Ibai out).
It was Ibai's third career goal against Real, so he is a big-game player.
1 - Ibai Gómez is the first player to score a goal against Real Madrid in all competitions in 2014. Explosion.— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 2, 2014
1 - Trochowski & Ibai Gómez are the only players who have scored to Real Madrid & Barcelona in this league. Rendezvous.— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 1, 2012
Also, the way he scored was not a one-off, as he netted an outstanding volley on the run against Real Sociedad last season.
What makes Ibai so invaluable to Bilbao is his ability to do more with less.
He is producing more goals as a super-sub (six goals) than as a starter (two goals).
This is why he has only started 29.4 percent of La Liga games he has been involved in this season, because management see him as a Chicharito-type player, who can either finish or rescue games.
|League Only||Ibai||Gareth Bale||Neymar|
|Minutes Per Goal||74.3||112.4||185|
|Shots Per Goal||5.3||4.7||6.7|
|Shooting Accuracy %||56||47||63|
|Games Started %||29.4||80||75|
Ibai, formerly of Basque Country club Santutxu, only needs 74.3 minutes per goal.
To translate that in United talk, what Ibai did in 26 seconds against Real is something Nani and Shinji Kagawa have yet to do in the Premier League this season: Score a goal.
Ibai is classy when shooting the ball.
However, he is not just a gunner in front of goal, as he registered nine assists last season.
That was more than the combined output of Ashley Young (three), Nani (two), Ryan Giggs (three) during the 2012-13 Premier League season.
Ibai can cross on either flank.
He created a goal from the right wing for centre-back Mikel San Jose in a 2-1 win over Real Betis.
In a 4-2 win over Real Valladolid, Ibai cut in from the left wing, jinked past Valladolid players Antonio Rukavina and Daniel Larsson.
Ibai then delivered an accurate cross which led to Bilbao centre-forward Aritz Aduriz heading the ball down for Oscar De Marcos to score.
United management have given David Moyes "at least £100 million" to spend in the summer transfer window, per Mark Ogden at the Telegraph.
Instead of signing a role player such as Herrera, who is not a finished product, Moyes needs to go for a proactive and productive go-getter like Ibai.
Even though it might be difficult to sign Ibai from Bilbao as he showed loyalty by renewing his contract last December, per Football Espana, United must consider him as a summer transfer window target.
In 2010, Barcelona were interested in Athletic winger Ibai Gomez (24) for the B-team, but the player preferred to stay in Bilbao. [sport]— barcastuff (@barcastuff) February 4, 2014