In the summer Manchester United were struggling in the transfer market. The club seemed to have lost the power to convince nearly any player in the world that the Theatre of Dreams was the destination of choice.
One such player who slipped through the net was Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera. They had a third party apparently doing the negotiating for the Bilbao player and what ensued was a calamity.
Bilbao are notoriously difficult negotiators and the club were refusing to budge from the players £29.9 million buyout clause.
He struggled at the start of the season - but has begun looking like much more of the player that originally caught the eye of United.
The club are still believed to be interested in the player - however he has made it clear recently that he is not currently seeking the overtures of Manchester.
And now he has made comments which make it clear a move to United does not seem to be on the cards anytime soon.
Bilbao are flying high - sitting fourth in the table three points ahead of Villarreal. With that in mind the Basque club is certainly looking good for a Champions League place next season - although the Yellow Submarine will certainly be looking to push them all the way.
And at 24, Herrera is ready for the step up to Champions League football:
“Top four would be great but I don’t want to put a roof on things. I still think the dream is to play in the Champions League. I also think we have the capacity and potential to do it but we can’t forget where we came from. We had a very difficult, tumultuous year in which we didn’t live up to our potential. We are privileged to be how we are now but we cannot forget we came from the mud.”
Despite the fact he seems to suggest he wants to play Champions League football with Bilbao - he is also much more likely to play Champions League football with Bilbao.
They are in a prime position for European football’s top table - United are certainly not.
Seventh in the league and seven points off fourth is certainly not ideal - especially compared to where Bilbao sit.
If United do want Herrera - they will have to finish in the top four, all the while hoping Villarreal do them a favour in the second half of the Spanish season.
image: © Jack Tanner