Manchester United's bid for Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera has been rejected, as reported by the Basque club and via Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC:
"Athletic Club has rejected a €36m offer from Manchester United FC for Ander Herrera" http://t.co/0WKFrUxVAk— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) June 26, 2014
The Red Devils appeared all but certain to secure Herrera's signing, per Adam Crafton of the Daily Mail. Unfortunately for the Premier League club, another summer of frustration threatens to take hold as their second attempt to land Herrera in a year comes to a standstill.
Sky Sports reported that the player has passed a medical, but terms of a deal haven't been agreed to:
Sky Sports understands Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera has passed a medical and agreed personal terms with Manchester United – although a fee is yet to be agreed.
Athletic announced earlier on Wednesday that they had rejected a £28.85m bid from United who unsuccessfully tried to sign Herrera on deadline day last summer.
Bilbao later reported that the terms of the buyout were met:
The Football League has certified Athletic Club that player Ander Herrera Aguera has fulfilled the requirements of the applicable regulations valid for unilateral termination of the employment contract that bound him to our Club, by depositing today the amount of compensation established in the contract.
The Athletic Club thanks Ander Herrera for his dedication during the three seasons he has enjoyed the club and wishes him the best in his future sports projects.
Herrera's buyout clause stands at £28 million until July 1, when it rises to £33 million, per Jamie Anderson of the Express. Bilbao's rejection may be a ploy to see out the current price until Tuesday, forcing United into a larger offer.
The English club will be wary of failing to land their transfer targets in the public eye after David Moyes' ill-fated reign was defined by his inability to sign new stars. Although Louis van Gaal is yet to take over the club, it seems the Dutch manager will need to work avidly to improve a struggling squad.
BBC Sport suggest United remain confident of landing Herrera, even after having a bid rejected:
Manchester United confident of signing Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera despite seeing a £29m bid rejected by the Spanish club #MUFC— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) June 26, 2014
Guillem Balague, Sky Sports' resident Spanish football expert and Bleacher Report UK guest columnist, believes a deal will still go ahead:
A.Herrera: As usual with Athletic, they reject United OFFER...which means Utd will have to pay buy out clause. He WILL be an Utd player— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) June 26, 2014
Similar frustrations are also beginning to appear in United's bid for Southampton left-back Luke Shaw, per Gary Jones of the Daily Star:
Southampton rejected United's first £27m offer but are now ready to return with a new improved deal since securing Herrera from Athletic Bilbao.
It's understood United will increase their bid to £30m as they look to get their summer transfer drive onto a positive start.
Saints are thought to have increased their evaluation of Shaw by £10m, but United are adamant they will not pay as much as £40m for the 18-year-old.
Will Manchester United sign Ander Herrera?
Southampton want "more than £30 million" for Shaw according to Alex Crook of the Mirror, as United's resolve is starting to be tested. This fee appears sizeable for a youngster who has contributed in just two Premier League seasons, but considering United could get 15 years' worth of service out of the 18-year-old, it may turn out to be a bargain.
United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has taken control of transfers since joining last season, but Chris Fleming of Infostrada Sports believes a shake-up could be needed:
The Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera deals just go to show that Man Utd desperately need a Director of Football.— Chris Fleming (@Chris__Fleming) June 26, 2014
One developing talent the club gave up on, a certain Paul Pogba, is an example of how quickly a player's potential can turn into world-class quality. Sir Alex Ferguson let the French midfielder slip two years ago, and since then, he has established himself as one of the world's best developing stars at Juventus.
Daniel Taylor of the Guardian suggested United would need £60 million to bring the player back. While Herrera's signing would address the need for a hard-working midfielder who can retain possession, win the ball back and offer a creative threat, the yearning for a destroyer remains.
Former United striker Dion Dublin believes Pogba "is exactly the sort of player Manchester United need," as revealed to the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast show on talkSPORT. "He's got energy, spark and a hunger Rooney has, he's also very brave. He comes with a badboy image but he's a quality footballer. Man United should get him back."
It seems United will face an almighty task to land multiple targets this summer. The club's need for strengthening is obvious, perhaps allowing selling clubs to hold out for extra money and dictate the situation. Supporters will hope Van Gaal can take control of the situation when his World Cup duty with the Netherlands is complete.
For now, the signings of Herrera and Shaw remain up in the air.