Having been voted player of the year by the fans last season, Ander Herrera started this campaign with just one year remaining on his current. While Manchester United confirmed that Juan Mata, who was in the same situation, had his deal extended by a further year when activating a clause in his contract, no such news about Herrera was announced, even though it was reported in the press.
Herrera has seemingly confirmed today that he will be spending a further season at the club but that any longer deal has yet to be agreed.
“I will definitely see out the year I have left but I don’t know if I will sign a new one,” he told the Spanish press. “We have started talking, but nothing has been decided yet.”
The timing is probably as good as it will ever be for Herrera to get the club to commit, given his performance against Manchester City last Saturday. Playing a part in a midfield three, he put in a great shift, and the extra cover he provided allowed Paul Pogba to go forward more. Herrera also claimed the assist for Pogba’s first goal, when chesting down a cross perfectly in to the path of the Frenchman.
United had gone in 2-0 down at half-time and Herrera was one of three players, alongside Ashley Young and Michael Carrick, who stood out in being particularly vocal in inspiring the team to come back and win the game, denying City their title celebrations.
As Herrera left the field, he was seen spitting on the floor, which just happened to be where a City crest was printed. He later denied any claims he had deliberately spat on the badge although some United fans have their doubts.
Reports today suggest that after the game United fans made sure they rubbed their victory in City’s faces. Following City’s win at Old Trafford earlier in the season the blues celebrated loudly, so the United players returned the favour at the Etihad.
Jose Mourinho’s men found out that City had booked tables at Wings, a popular Chinese restaurant in town, to celebrate their title win. “Booked tables have you?” one United player, believed to be Jesse Lingard, goaded. “We’ll take your f**king tables!”. You can imagine that Herrera probably wasn’t far away from this interaction, given his passion for the club and how much he likes to get under the skin of his opponent.
Yet this season has been a quiet one for Herrera, who admits that having a player like Nemanja Matic to compete with, who he says is on the same level as Sergio Busquets, makes it difficult for him to get playing time.
Yet Herrera doesn’t appear to be downbeat about the situation, rather being keen to do all he can to support United’s success.
“I enjoy coming to the dressing room every day, going out to train, seeing stadiums full of people and taking a picture with the fans waiting for us in Carrington,” he said. “I will take from this profession until it does not give me anymore. Obviously you are happier when you play, but it also comforts me to be physically fit, to train to the fullest and go home with the knowledge that I have given the maximum.”
Fans like Herrera because he gives his all and works hard for the team, yet that doesn’t always make up for what is lacking in his game. He is a good player and has had great performances, particularly when it has really mattered, scoring goals against Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal in the past, but consistently he isn’t at the level United need to compete for titles.
If United are going to continue playing a midfield three, which would help get the best out of Pogba, some supporters have called for an upgrade, with Arturo Vidal a popular choice. He played alongside the Frenchman at Juventus and his Chilean roots would make him a welcomed addition by Alexis Sanchez.
Yet as a squad player, Herrera has a lot to offer the club and United would be wise to tie him down for longer than the year he has remaining. He is popular with his teammates and the supporters, and you could do a lot worse than having someone who cares as much as Herrera does in your dressing room.