The 24-year-old Spanish playmaker was the subject of a bid from the Premier League champions in the summer but the deal was thwarted in a strange set of circumstances involving imposters posing as representatives of the club on deadline day in September.
However, the midfielder has now scuppered his own chances of the Red Devils reigniting the flames of their interest in capturing him in January as new boss David Moyes is expected to spend big to boost United’s hopes of retaining the Premier League title.
"I appreciate very much that Manchester United made a very important offer for me and also that Athletic did not accept it," he stated in interview with Canal Plus Spain.
"That means that Athletic value me above money and trust in their project more than a large offer.”
"I'm where I wanted to be in this day, not someone who has played for six or seven clubs. I like to feel good where I am, take root and Athletic is the perfect place for me," he added.
Whilst Herrera must be applauded for his loyalty to his hometown club, snubbing the most popular, well-known and successful club in the world to remain at a bottom-half La Liga team is not a particularly wise idea for a midfielder hoping to break into the Spain national team.
Herrera has been involved with Spain at youth level (U20, U21, and U23) but has not been introduced to the senior setup given the abundance of world-class midfielders ahead of him in the pecking order. The likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Juan Mata, David Silva, Santi Cazorla, and youngster Isco, Koke, and Thiago Alcantara mean it’s unlikely he will be on the flight to Brazil next summer for the World Cup.
A move to the Premier League champions who desperately require some creative impetus in their midfield would have significantly boosted his chances of at least getting a call up the Spain national team under Vincente del Bosque but staying at Athletic Bilbao at the age of 24 will likely mean he will see out his contract which runs until 2016 by which point Herrera will be 27 years old.
Fabregas earned his first call up to the senior team one year after he moved to Arsenal, Mata became a regular starter for Spain following his move to Chelsea, as did David Silva following his move to Manchester City. Santi Cazorla has found himself involved twice as much since his move to the Emirates. If nothing more, a move to the Premier League champions would have raised his profile on the world stage considerably.
Playing alongside Ballon d’Or nominated striker Robin van Persie as well as England number 10 Wayne Rooney would not have done his career any harm but, alas, the Bilbao-born boy seems intent on staying close to home but in years to come he may regret snubbing a move to Manchester United.
image: © Jack Tanner