Back in January, Lazio playmaker Hernanes was hot property, his name splashed across gossip columns on a daily basis.
The Brazil international was in the midst of a difficult campaign with the capital club at the time, looking a shadow of the player who had bagged 30 goals and eight assists in the three previous Serie A seasons.
For months, talk that the attacking midfielder could be sold swirled around him in light of a failure to agree a new contract with Lazio – his poor form largely attributed to this uncertainty about his future.
Suitors were said to be lining up to make a move for Hernanes last January, thinking he could rediscover his best form in new surroundings away from the Stadio Olimpico.
However, the pair seemingly took the decision not to follow up their initial interest. United opted for Juan Mata instead, while Spurs ultimately brought in no new faces in January.
Despite some combative words from Lazio president Claudio Lotito on the matter, Lazio did end up selling Hernanes. Inter shelled out €20 million to keep him in Serie A, the first major purchase of Erick Thohir’s reign as Nerazzurri owner.
To say the least, Hernanes has struggled to justify his price tag. He’s made 20 starts in the Italian top flight since arriving at San Siro, his contributions not up to his former standards.
Ex-head coach Walter Mazzarri struggled to fit the Brazilian into his tactical set-up. Now, physical problems have become an issue for Hernanes, who will turn 30 in May and Roberto Mancini is scrambling to figure out how to get the best out of him.
The primary concern for Spurs and United when tracking the midfielder in January was his advancing years, which raised questions about his poor form simply being an aberration.
This evaluation that Hernanes had indeed entered a decline now seems to have been proven true. Calciomercato have called him a ‘mystery’, critical of his lack of production for an underperforming Inter side.
Stepping back short of making a move for him in January thus looks a wise choice from Spurs and United in retrospect, both of whom saved some €20 million not making an ill-advised purchase.
Taking on Hernanes was always going to be a gamble for whoever chose to write a sizeable cheque for him, with United and Spurs better off for allowing Inter to solve the ‘mystery’ of his downturn since the end of the 2012-13 campaign.