Scouting Report: Can Ander Herrera Revive Manchester United?

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentJuly 2, 2014

BILBAO, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 02: Ander Herrera of Athletic Club is brought down by Xabi Alonso of Real Madrid CF during the La Liga match between Athletic Club and real Madrid CF at San Mames Stadium on February 2, 2014 in Bilbao, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

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 Positives

Herrera was Athletic Bilbao's creative outlet, hence why he played primarily as a No. 10 last season. 

Marca.com

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. 

LigaBBVA.com

Herrera consummately clipped a ball to Athletic Bilbao centre-forward Aritz Aduriz after pirouetting away from Osasuna defensive midfielder Francisco Silva

LigaBBVA.com

Striding confidently towards the ball, Herrera supplied a left-footed cross to Aduriz against Levante. 

LigaBBVA.com

Real Betis' defence was breached via a Herrera instep pass to Aduriz.  

LigaBBVA.com

Herrera exposed then-Atletico Madrid (now Boca Juniors) centre-back Cata Diaz with a through-ball to Athletic Bilbao right attacking midfielder Markel Susaeta. 

LigaBBVA.com
League OnlyAssistsKey Passes Per GamePass Completion %Passes Per Game
Ander Herrera51.680.647.2
Darren Fletcher00.689.155.8
Marouane Fellaini10.388.550.5
Michael Carrick01.088.670.7
Tom Cleverley00.589.651.7

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. 

LigaBBVA.com

Herrera tallied 103 tackles last season and 105 tackles for Real Zaragoza during the 2011-12 season. 

League OnlyTackles Per GameFouls Per GameTackles Per FoulInterceptions Per Game
Ander Herrera3.11.52.11.0
Darren Fletcher0.70.32.71.3
Marouane Fellaini2.82.11.31.9
Michael Carrick2.10.45.12.8
Tom Cleverley2.20.73.01.5

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. 

Marca.com

 

Herrera Negatives

Committing absent-mindedness plays is a major red flag in Herrera's game, like overcomplicating a play against Levante.

LigaBBVA.com

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.

LigaBBVA.com

Despite being on a yellow card, Herrera handled the ball to receive a second yellow card against Sevilla.

LigaBBVA.com

LigaBBVA.com

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.

Squawka.com
League OnlyGamesGoalsShotsShots Per Goal
Ander Herrera3356813.6
Darren Fletcher1205-
Marouane Fellaini16025-
Michael Carrick2911717
Tom Cleverley2211515

 

Bottom Line

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 OnlyGoalsShots Per GoalAssistsKey Passes Per GameDribbles Per GamePossession Won Back Per Game [1]Fouls Per Game
Allan 0-21.12.26.11.3
Ander Herrera13.6 5 1.6 1.2 4.1 1.5 
Johannes Geis56 5 2.1 0.6 4.7 1.3 

[1] combined tackles and interceptions per game


Allan and Geis would have been more economically efficient signings for United. 

MILAN, ITALY - JANUARY 22:  Keisuke Honda of AC Milan (R) and Allan of Udinese Calcio compete for the ball during the TIM Cup match between AC Milan and Udinese Calcio at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on January 22, 2014 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Michael Probst/Associated Press

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

 

@allanjianga

Statistics via WhoScored.com