Can Ander Herrera—a 24-year-old, 6'0", 161-pound Spanish midfielder—lead Manchester United back to the top of the Premier League under Louis van Gaal?
To address that question, here is a comprehensive scouting report on Herrera.
Herrera was Athletic Bilbao's creative outlet, hence why he played primarily as a No. 10 last season.
Imagination and an ample passing range enables Herrera to conjure up virtuoso moments.
Herrera spotted Athletic Bilbao substitute Ibai Gomez making a run in behind Almeria right-back Rafita.
In transition and under pressure, Herrera completed a crisp pass to Ibai.
Herrera consummately clipped a ball to Athletic Bilbao centre-forward Aritz Aduriz after pirouetting away from Osasuna defensive midfielder Francisco Silva
Striding confidently towards the ball, Herrera supplied a left-footed cross to Aduriz against Levante.
Real Betis' defence was breached via a Herrera instep pass to Aduriz.
|League Only||Assists||Key Passes Per Game||Pass Completion %||Passes Per Game|
Off-the-ball intensity will endear Herrera to Van Gaal.
Herrera doggedly applies pressure, as illustrated when he chased down Real Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez's attempted clearance.
Herrera tallied 103 tackles last season and 105 tackles for Real Zaragoza during the 2011-12 season.
|League Only||Tackles Per Game||Fouls Per Game||Tackles Per Foul||Interceptions Per Game|
Athletic, resilient and a prolific ball-winner are attributes that have seen Herrera start as a defensive midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 and a central midfielder in a 4-1-4-1.
Committing absent-mindedness plays is a major red flag in Herrera's game, like overcomplicating a play against Levante.
Herrera lacks discipline.
In his last three seasons, he has received 27 yellow cards and two red cards in 94 La Liga games.
Herrera snapped and kicked out at then-Valencia (now Spartak Moscow) central midfielder Tino Costa.
Despite being on a yellow card, Herrera handled the ball to receive a second yellow card against Sevilla.
Another area of concern in Herrera's game is shooting.
His shots on target percentage is below average (38, per Squawka.com) and he scored five goals from 68 shots in league play last season.
|League Only||Games||Goals||Shots||Shots Per Goal|
There are two main problems with signing Herrera.
- He is a 24-year-old who has made significant errors in his last two seasons.
- The £29 million transfer fee for Herrera is overpriced.
Udinese's 23-year-old Brazilian Allan Marques Loureiro registered 136 tackles, intercepted 66 passes, completed 71 dribbles and flashed Arturo Vidal-like plays.
What about Mainz's 20-year-old German Johannes Geis?
He is a solid ball-winner and can cross the ball like David Beckham.
|League Only||Goals||Shots Per Goal||Assists||Key Passes Per Game||Dribbles Per Game||Possession Won Back Per Game ||Fouls Per Game|
 combined tackles and interceptions per game
Allan and Geis would have been more economically efficient signings for United.
However, Herrera is an all-round midfielder.
His forcefulness combined with world-class technique means he should make a seamless transition to Premier League football.
Herrera can play as a No. 6, No. 8 and a No. 10, therefore he is a typical Van Gaal midfielder.
These factors are the context behind United overpaying for Herrera.
Statistics via WhoScored.com