Scouting Report: Manchester United Should Target Ibai Gomez, Not Ander Herrera

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentFebruary 14, 2014

Athletic Bilbao's Ibai Gomez, second right,  celebrates between his teammates Mikel Rico, right, and Ander Herrera, center,  after scoring his goal resulting in a tie, during the Spanish League soccer match between Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid, at San Mames stadium in Bilbao, Spain, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
Alvaro Barrientos/Associated Press

Rather than target Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera again, Manchester United should pursue his teammate Ibai Gomez in the summer transfer window, so here is a scouting report on him.


Herrera Update

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. 

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). 

GETAFE, SPAIN - OCTOBER 28:  Ander Herrera (L) of Athletic Club argues with referee Gil Manzano during the La Liga match between Getafe CF and Athletic Club at Coliseum Alfonso Perez stadium on October 28, 2013 in Getafe, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Get
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

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. 

Source: Marca


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). 

Source: David Gallart Domingo (Moviolagol)

It was Ibai's third career goal against Real, so he is a big-game player.


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 OnlyIbai Gareth BaleNeymar
Minutes Per Goal74.3112.4185
Shots Per Goal5.34.76.7
Shooting Accuracy %564763
Games Started %29.48075

Real's Bale (£78 million) and Barcelona's Neymar (£47.3 million) combine for £125.3 million and 15 league goals from 2,122 minutes at 141.5 minutes per goal. 

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 ValladolidIbai 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. 



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