Per Craig Hope of the Mail Online, the 24-year-old has stated his unequivocal desire to remain with the Basques, rendering any pursuit from the Red Devils useless:
I have already made it clear, I do not want to leave Athletic and I won’t. We have a great team and worked really hard to get where we are. This is where I belong. [...] I do not want to leave Athletic. My place is here and I am very happy.
Previous incumbent of the managerial hot seat David Moyes had tried to make Herrera one of his first signings last summer. Farcically, three imposters, in no way connected with Manchester United, attempted to negotiate the midfielder's purchase at the La Liga offices, per the BBC, via Reuters.
An ultimately unsuccessful chase ended when Moyes instead turned to ex-Everton star Marouane Fellaini as his holding central midfielder.
It's fair to suggest that the Belgian hasn't really done enough to excite the Old Trafford faithful. Indeed, per Charles Perrin of the Express, some fans expressed their ire on Twitter and cannot wait to see the back of him:
Fellaini isn't a kid nor is this first season in PL. If u pay 27 million then u expect more then we all are seeing at the moment. Simple!
Buying Fellaini for £27m is like throwing money in the gutter.
Herrera has gone from strength to strength throughout Athletic's successful season, a season from which they will qualify for the early stages of next season's Champions League competition. That's something else Manchester United will not be able to offer any prospective newcomer.
Herrera's five goals, five assists and 80.7 pass success rate compares extremely favourably to Fellaini, with no goals and no assists.
Fellaini does have a better pass success rate of 88.1, but his 748 total passes across the season, per Squawka, pales into comparison to the Spaniard. His 1,459 total passes, per Squawka, across the season is only 36 short of being double the amount of Fellaini.
It's no wonder that United were interested in the services of someone with such industry to underpin their midfield. Sam Peoples of The Peoples Person also noted:
Herrera is a much more refined central midfielder and he is extremely hard-working, which bodes well if he would play alongside Carrick because the 32-year-old is not the most mobile central midfielder out there. He has a fantastic attitude on the pitch, plays with a lot of passion and is aggressive defensively.
The issue now is for any new manager to identify and secure such talent and in good time—not end up as they did during last summer's transfer window, with last-minute panic-buys.
Despite being unable to offer European football, Manchester United are still a very attractive proposition for any young player.
Wiping the slate clean from an absolutely disastrous season for the Red Devils may be the very thing that allows them to regroup and reassess, with a view to being competitive once again during the next campaign.
But transfer-market success will be key to their immediate ambitions.
Stats via WhoScored.com unless otherwise noted.
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