Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde says he wants reported €30 million Manchester United target Ander Herrera to stay at the club, but he cannot be sure a move will not happen before the summer transfer window shuts on Monday night.
As reports suggested that United are considering upping their bid to match the €36 million release clause in Herrera’s contract, his father Pedro told Mundo Deportivo that the 24-year-old was content to remain in Bilbao.
Herrera spent all the 90 minutes of Sunday's game at the Bernabeu on the bench, with new signing Mikel Rico starting and 22-year-old Erik Moran getting a rare run as a substitute in midfield. But Valverde said this decision was not connected with the speculation swirling around the previous automatic selection.
"It had nothing to do with [United offer]," he said. "We decided to go with other players. If that had been the reason I would have left him in the stands [not on the bench]."
Valverde said that the midfielder had not asked for a move but even still he was unsure of what might happen in the next 24 hours.
"I have not thought about talking to him to convince him about anything," he said. "Things seem clear to me, the way I understand it he is staying. I do not know what will happen. I want Ander to stay with us, and that is what I think will happen."
The former Espanyol and Valencia coach did comment on the size of the offer made by United on Thursday night, which was confirmed by club president Josu Urrutia on Friday morning.
"A club does not always pay €36 million, or €30 million, for a player," Valverde said. "That does not happen every day. Maybe at Madrid, but not in Bilbao."
Pressed again on whether the move might happen, the Extremaduran smiled.
"You are all obsessed," he said. "You will know tomorrow."
The game as a whole had been disappointing from Athletic’s point of view, Valverde said.
"We are disappointed, not for the defeat because it is normal that Madrid will have chances at the Bernabeu," he added. "But for the way we played. We wanted to feel we could dispute the game with them. But we were too weak, and with very little chance of winning the game."