Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Iturraspe has admitted that the team are missing Ander Herrera.
Herrera was one of the best players for Bilbao last season and was key in them finishing fourth in La Liga.
Deployed as a central midfielder, the 25-year-old did not have the best of starts to the 2013-14 season, but he gradually regained his rhythm.
The Spaniard ended the campaign with five goals in 33 La Liga appearances, while creating 53 chances and having a 81% passing accuracy rate.
Manchester United swooped in for Herrera in the summer transfer window and signed him for a reported fee of £29 million.
While the former Real Zaragoza star has gone on to make himself an important player in Louis van Gaal’s United team, his absence has been severely felt by Bilbao, who are currently third from bottom in La Liga after seven rounds of matches.
‘He spent three years with us and was a key player for Athletic’, Iturraspe told Goal.com. ‘He is a great friend. But he is not with us now and there are other great players we have to rely on’.
The departure of Herrera is not the only reason why Ernesto Valverde’s side are struggling in the league, of course, but his absence has certainly been felt by the Basque giants.
Herrera is currently out with a rib fracture and has been sidelined for ‘weeks’. United do have players to replace him in midfield, but Van Gaal will certainly want the star summer signing to recover as soon as possible.