THE BLOG

A New Contract For Ander Herrera Will Be One Of The Most Important Things Man Utd Do This Summer

13/06/2017 17:19
MICHAEL CAMPANELLA via Getty Images

​Manchester United will sign three or four new players this summer as Jose Mourinho looks to strengthen key positions in a recruitment policy that is taking similar shape to that of last summer. But in among the new arrivals, one other key piece of business will be huge.

United are edging towards agreeing a new contract with midfield hero Ander Herrera, and having the fan favourite commit his long-term future to Old Trafford is imperative after the vital role he's performed in the team over the course of the 2016/17 season.

Herrera will imminently enter the final 12 months of the four-year contract he signed when he first arrived from Athletic Bilbao in the summer of 2014.

In his own words, the player is 'happy' at United and the club has no interest in selling him. But Barcelona, led by former Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde, will continue to lurk until a time when the his future has been secured on a new deal.

Even before 2016/17 when he enjoyed a real breakout campaign as fierce midfield engine, Herrera had long established a special connection with United in a way that is rare even for the most popular foreign imports to English clubs.

Earlier this year, the Basque-native spoke of his first experience of Old Trafford as an away player with Bilbao in 2012 and how he wished from that moment to one day to return to the stadium wearing a United shirt. As it was, Herrera was outstanding on the night as Bilbao ran riot, putting himself firmly on the radar.

From previously operating as a creative 'number 10' type, Herrera adapted his game last summer to ensure he would be useful to Mourinho as the new incoming boss.

"I knew at the beginning of the season that I could be an important player for the team. I had a meeting with him and he told me I was going to be important to him if I got some points and I did it," the 27-year-old told Sky Sports this week.

"I know it is difficult to play in a big club like Manchester United as a No.10 because you know how many goals you have to score to play there. So I thought I had to add something to my game. I had to give more options to the manager. We both agreed."

United fans caught the first real glimpse of the new Herrera when he gave the ultimate disciplined performance against Liverpool at Anfield in October. United were struggling at the time, while Liverpool were free scoring, and a 0-0 draw was a valuable result in the circumstances.

The Spaniard's brilliance fully peaked when Mourinho masterminded a 2-0 over champions elect Chelsea at Old Trafford in April. He marked Eden Hazard out of the game, never giving the Belgian a moment's peace. Remarkably, for a player given a predominantly defensive role on the day, Herrera assisted United's opening goal and later scored the crucial second.

Now, having helped United win the Europa League last month, and for only the second time in his career to date, he can look forward to Champions League football next season.

Herrera, who was named United's Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year at the club's annual award ceremony last month, has largely rejected praise when it has come his way this season. It's a modesty that has only further enhanced his popularity with the fans. He knows that supporters expect every player to give their all every game, and he's only too happy to oblige.

"I just try to go to the pitch and finish the game not being able to complain to myself knowing I have given everything. That's why our fans support me, that's why our fans believe in me and that's the way I'm going to continue playing," he further said in his interview with Sky.

Even though he's humbly distanced himself from taking the captain's armband on numerous occasions, he appears to be a natural leader. And it's not just on the field of play. Off the pitch, he's a shining example to others and conducts himself incredibly professionally, never making headlines for the wrong reasons.

What's more, Herrera is the kind of player opposition fans detest, a busy, Gary Neville-type character who won't accept less than perfection and will do just about anything to win and defend his team-mates, only serving to strengthen the bond with his own supporters.

United fans will rejoice when the club unveils their anticipated new signings this summer - maybe Romelu Lukaku, perhaps Andrea Belotti, Alvaro Morata, or Victor Lindelof - but there will be just as much joy when United proudly tell the world Ander Herrera has signed his new long-term deal.

Comments

CONVERSATIONS