If Man United offer more for the Bilbao star, what should United fans expect from him, if he joins?
He is a player who, despite not having his best of seasons last- term as the club struggled under Marcelo Bielsa, is capable of adding what United’s central midfield has long been crying out for.
He is a creative, tricky, mobile player who enjoys taking on opponents, picking incisive passes, and getting into advanced positions. He attempted an average of close to four take-on’s per game in the middle of the pitch last season, completing 42% of them. With his nifty feet and good off-the-ball-movement, opponents found him to be a constant thorn in their sides and struggled to contain him, resulting in him being fouled an average of close to four times per game. A player with those attributes will make a great foil for a deep-lying midfielder like Michael Carrick or Phil Jones, when he does an odd job there.
He is a good passer of the ball, but with Bilbao experiencing dire straits, his form suffered. He attempted close to six long passes per game, but completed just 68% of them. Ultimately, he created 37 chances last season. Had Bilbao fared better, surely his creative output would’ve been greater. But looking at the areas in which these chances were created, one can see how much of an influence he can have in and around the final third.
Ander Herrera won more tackles last season (90) than Premier League trio Frank Lampard, Jack Wilshere & Yaya Toure combined (83).
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 30, 2013
Off the ball, his work is also quite noteworthy. He isn’t one to shy away from a tackle, attempting an impressive four per game, completing 77% of them. He also won more tackles than Yaya Toure, with the big Man City man winning only 28 tackles last-term. He also averaged just over one interception per game. On the downside, he can be a bit of a hot-head. He collected 11 yellow cards and two red cards for dissent, poor tackles, diving, handball, and even an altercation. If he is to succeed at a club like Manchester United, he must learn to maintain composure and concentration throughout the game.
He must also improve his shooting. He is a player who loves to have a go at goal, especially from distance, but just eight league goals since 2009 isn’t good enough for a player of his quality. Looking at the above visualisation, it’s clear his placement needs work. His decision-making in this regard could also use some improving. Perhaps he can use his trickery to get closer to goal. He needs to work on steadying himself before striking the ball. The potential is certainly there. Some extra work on the training ground should see his goal tally improve over time.
The 24-year-old Spaniard isn’t quite the finished product, but he could prove a valuable addition to Moyes’ central midfield as he offers something different. The reported bid of €30 million is a lot. But with options limited at this stage, if United are indeed set to spend that amount, Ander isn’t exactly a bad option.
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