Scouting Report: Can Ander Herrera Revive Manchester United?

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Scouting Report: Can Ander Herrera Revive Manchester United?
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.

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.

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

League Only Assists Key Passes Per Game Pass Completion % Passes Per Game
Ander Herrera 5 1.6 80.6 47.2
Darren Fletcher 0 0.6 89.1 55.8
Marouane Fellaini 1 0.3 88.5 50.5
Michael Carrick 0 1.0 88.6 70.7
Tom Cleverley 0 0.5 89.6 51.7

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.

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
Ander Herrera 3.1 1.5 2.1 1.0
Darren Fletcher 0.7 0.3 2.7 1.3
Marouane Fellaini 2.8 2.1 1.3 1.9
Michael Carrick 2.1 0.4 5.1 2.8
Tom Cleverley 2.2 0.7 3.0 1.5

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.

Herrera Negatives

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 and he scored five goals from 68 shots in league play last season.

League Only Games Goals Shots Shots Per Goal
Ander Herrera 33 5 68 13.6
Darren Fletcher 12 0 5 -
Marouane Fellaini 16 0 25 -
Michael Carrick 29 1 17 17
Tom Cleverley 22 1 15 15

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 Only Goals Shots Per Goal Assists Key Passes Per Game Dribbles Per Game Possession Won Back Per Game [1] Fouls Per Game
Allan  0 - 2 1.1 2.2 6.1 1.3
Ander Herrera 13.6  5  1.6  1.2  4.1  1.5 
Johannes Geis 56  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. 

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


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