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Man United close in on Ander Herrera

Ander Herrera will likely be plying his trade at Old Trafford in 2014-15.

Manchester United are hoping to make their first signing of the Louis van Gaal era as they near a deal for Athletic Bilbao's Ander Herrera.

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The Spaniard almost joined United last summer before a move broke down on transfer deadline day in controversial circumstances.

Now sources have told ESPN FC that United have resurrected their interest in Herrera, with the 13-time Premier League champions reportedly activating a 28-million-pound release clause in his contract.

The 24-year-old, who is yet to be capped by his country, is expected to sign for United, bringing to an end a year-long pursuit of him.

Former manager David Moyes tried to bring in Herrera in September 2013 but could not complete the move in time, while stories emerged suggesting the Premier League club ended up negotiating with fake representatives of Athletic.

Herrera, who began his career at Zaragoza, ended up staying in Bilbao and helped Athletic finish fourth in La Liga last season.

United also have a long-standing interest in Southampton and England left-back Luke Shaw, but a move was not finalised before the World Cup.

A central midfielder has long been a target for them but Van Gaal decided against pursuing Bayern Munich's Toni Kroos and Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas, two targets identified by Moyes.

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