- 5'11" (1.82m)
- 150 lbs (68 kg)
- August 14, 1989
Almost a year after a proposed move fell through, Ander Herrera finally completed a switch from Athletic Bilbao to Manchester United, marking an exciting new stage in the midfielder's career.
Herrera was born in Bilbao, where he would later go on to shine as the fulcrum of Athletic's midfield, but was raised for the most part in Zaragoza and it was there that he received his football education. After just a handful of appearances for Zaragoza B it was clear that a teenage Herrera was already ready to step up to the first-team picture and he did just that, making his debut in 2008 at the age of 19 and playing an important role in the club's promotion back to the Primera Division that season.
Zaragoza retained their La Liga status as Herrera became an influential part of the Aragonese midfield; another season of impressive displays in 2010-11 saw his hometown club, Athletic, come calling -- an offer that he was never going to refuse. After winning the European Under-21 Championship with Spain, Herrera arrived as part of Marcelo Bielsa's Athletic revolution, playing a key role in his debut season as the club won many admirers on their way to the finals of the Europa League -- with Manchester United among the clubs beaten on the way -- and the Copa del Rey. Ultimately they ended in disappointment for Herrera, who played a partial role in both having been withdrawn in the second half of the continental defeat and coming off the bench for the loss to Barca in the domestic cup.
His second season was not so successful, as Athletic struggled to live up to the high standards set in 2011-12 though on an individual level, Herrera's development continued apace and he began to attract the attention of some of Europe's biggest clubs. It was Manchester United who first tested the water but having left it until transfer deadline day of August 2013 to make their first offer, a deal was unable to be agreed. Herrera maintained that while he was flattered by United's interest he was committed to Athletic and, sure enough, he enjoyed his best campaign to date -- flourishing in new manager Ernesto Valverde's attacking system as the middle creative player in the line of three in a 4-2-3-1 formation, as well as in more of a pivote role.
His versatility, dynamism and guile helped Athletic qualify for the Champions League for the first time and convinced United -- by this time with Louis van Gaal in place as new boss -- that they should return with a new offer. Despite suffering disappointment as he was omitted from Spain's 2014 World Cup squad, Herrera soon received some better news when it was confirmed that he would move to Old Trafford in a 29 million pound transfer.
"I want to learn a lot of things and I cannot wait to play with Louis van Gaal, my new teammates and for Manchester United," Herrera said. "I know the Premier League and really like it. I think I will grow up in the Premier League. It is one of the best leagues in the world."
Strengths: Herrera has great vision and is adept at picking out key passes -- creating 53 chances for teammates in the 2013-14 La Liga season. He is also a hard worker and loves a tackle, completing more tackles (74) than any midfielder in Spain's World Cup squad last season.
Weaknesses: A penchant for tackling means he teeters on the brink of indiscipline; he committed 46 fouls and was booked seven times last season.
Career high: Scoring Spain's opening goal in the final of the 2011 European Under-21 Championship; his side beat Switzerland 2-0 to lift the trophy.
Career low: Losing both the Europa League and Copa del Rey finals -- Athletic lost 3-0 to Atletico Madrid and Barcelona -- in the space of two heartbreaking weeks in 2012.
Style: Box-to-box midfielder who is influential in attack but is not afraid to put in the dirty work either.
Quotes: "Ander is a fantastic young player, with great energy and creativity. We believe him to be one of the brightest young prospects in Spain and I am certain he will be a big hit with the United fans." Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs welcomes Herrera to Old Trafford.
Trivia: Herrera's father Pedro Maria was also a professional footballer, who also played in midfield for Real Zaragoza -- winning the 1986 Copa del Rey.
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|Man Utd||A - Inter||Jul 29, 2014||Champions Cup||W (3) 0-(5) 0||Sub-Off 45.0 min||0||0||1||0||2||2||0||0|
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|Man Utd||A - AS Roma||Jul 26, 2014||Champions Cup||W 2-3||Started||0||0||0||0||2||1||0||0|