Manchester United and Ander Herrera, what a saga. The Red Devils tried to sign the Spaniard at the end of the summer transfer window, but failed to meet the €36 million release clause in his contract in time.
Back in Spain with Athletic Bilbao the midfielder has struggled for form in La Liga. He has completed 90 minutes just once all season long.
So perhaps it was a little of a surprise to learn United were back in for him in January, with Marca reporting yesterday:
"The English club offers five variables over 24 million euros. United are unwilling to reach 36 million buyout clause, but knows the desires of Ander Herrera, who would be happy to go to the Premier."
'Happy to' may be correct, but he would also be quite happy to stay, reported by Inside Spanish Football to have said today: "I’m not a player who wants to change teams, I’ve taken root at Athletic and it is the perfect place for me to be."
That may be the end of it, but we are intrigued enough to ask the motive behind United's €24 million offer.
Bilbao's president Jose Urrutia has always been adamant the price tag is non-negotiable. Pay his €36m fee or walk away, has always been his stance, and one replicated for all players at the club.
So was the offer a desperate one? One stretched into variables because the club don't have enough money, let alone for the release clause?
One which was ill-judged bearing in mind Bilbao's stance, and more evidence of their amateurish transfer policy?
A cheeky one? Just to test the waters and see if Bilbao would accept bearing in mind his poor performances, and worried about the fact they should have cashed in during the summer?
Or a prudent bid? United may have decided Herrera absolutely is not worth €36 million, and €24 million is their highest bid, a 'take it or leave it' offer?
Either way it could be the end of the saga, and United can move onto other, perhaps better value midfield targets. We expect Herrera to still be a Bilbao player come February 1.
image: © Jack Tanner