Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera says he appreciates that Manchester United made an effort to sign him last summer, but suggests he would not be interested should the Red Devils return with another offer in January.
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Herrera, 24, was involved in one of last summer’s most bizarre transfer stories, with Athletic publicly turning down a reported 30 million euro bid, lawyers purporting to act on United’s behalf and then appearing at the Liga de Futbol Profesional offices in Madrid to pay his 36 million euro release clause, only for the English club to then claim the men were impostors.
The former Real Zaragoza playmaker told Canal Plus programme 'Espacio Reservado' that he had been flattered by the interest from Old Trafford, but he was planning to stay put in Bilbao for some time yet.
“I really appreciate both that Manchester United made such a big offer for me, and that Athletic did not accept it,” Herrera said. “That shows me that Athletic value me over and above the money involved, and that they trust in the project above taking a big amount of money.
“I am where I wanted to be, and I am not a player of six or seven teams. I want to feel good wherever I am, I want to put down roots and Athletic is the perfect team for that.”
Herrera has been in and out of the team this season under new coach Ernesto Valverde -- after his form dipped around the time of the transfer saga -- although he did return for Monday’s 2-1 La Liga win at Malaga.
“If I did not stay in the XI after playing the first three games of the season that is my own fault,” he said. “We have a good coach, he is consistent in his decisions.”
The former Spain under-21 international also had words of praise for former Athletic coach Marcelo Bielsa, who got the team playing some attractive football in his first season in charge, before things went off the rails in his second campaign.
“We have to really thank Bielsa,” Herrera said. “He made Athletic play like they had never played before. If United came to make an offer for me, a lot of that is down to Marcelo."