Would £30m midfielder have helped United or not this season?

Athletic Bilbao

Manchester United were linked with Athletic Bilbao playmaker Ander Herrera in the summer and winter window, however, their inability to get their man in hindsight may not have been a bad thing.

24-year-old Herrera was the target of very heavy Manchester United interest in the summer, with a reported £25.5m bid rejected for the Spanish midfielder with no international caps. 

It was a staggering, yet brave move from Athletic Bilbao who wanted £30 million but who in the end came out better? 

Manchester United have been stuck for large parts of this season without an proper influential playmaker. However, the signing of Mata in the winter window went a long way to resolving that issue and he has already made an impact with assists. 

NameTeamPosGoal AssistAppsMins
Juan Mata Man Utd MF 3 5 430

Similarly Herrera has only made three assists in 21 games this season, which shows his attacking capabilities don't really stack up to what United would need to push them on to the next level - neither would his contribution of two goals either. 

Interestingly enough, despite playing centre attacking midfield for Bilbao, he wins a lot of praise for his defensive contribution, more so than his attacking contribution to the side. 

He has made 62 tackles in 21 games this season, including 21 interceptions. However, he has conceded an incredible 31 fouls at the same time. Which is telling of a energetic attacking midfielder that likes to get his foot in where it hurts.

If we compare him in this role to the player United actually signed to do this job, it shows he is more likely to stick his foot in, but less likely to read the game than Fellaini. He will also give more fouls away - based on this sample data anyway.

NameTeamPosInterceptionTotal TackleFoulsAppsMins
Marouane Fellaini Man Utd MF 20 17 12 9 534

In the end, the Ander Herrera may not be the worst player in the world, however, he has shown nothing this season to prove why he was able to warrant such a large price tag, which I believe he would have struggled to pay back. 

Fellaini still has a lot of work to do if he is to win round Manchester United fans and that is something that he may struggle to do due to his large price tag. However, this is a player that had already proven himself in the Premier League and the hope of him doing well at Old Trafford is based on what fans have seen from him in past seasons of the Premier League.

Ander Herrera wouldn't have been that fortunate. A relative youngster in terms of experience, moving to this United side, devoid of their confidence may have done him more harm than good, and he would have been swallowed up the team's malaise.

Instead a more proven player is needed. Talk of Arturo Vidal is mere fantasy from United fans, but what he represents, a player who has performed in the Champions League, and won titles, is the type of midfielder the Red Devils need to transform their season, and Ander Herrera is not that man.

image: © birasuegi

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