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What Ander Herrera’s signing means for Manchester United

| 27.06.2014

Deposed Premier League champions Manchester United have begun to banish the memory of  their miserable 2013/14 campaign, and last summer’s horrendous transfer cock-ups, with a couple of eye-catching ‘silly season’ swoops.

United’s year-long pursuit of Spanish central-midfielders finally reached climax with the capture of Ander Herrera for £29m, and Southampton’s Luke Shaw is expected to follow the former Athletic Bilbao man to the north west for a similar fee soon.

Herrera grabbed the attention of the Old Trafford faithful with a deft display for the Basque country club in the last-16 of the Europa League two years ago, when Athletic nabbed a 3-2 away win before sending their opponents out at the San Mames.

The playmaker’s return of five La Liga goals last season was comfortably the best of his career so far, with another five laid on for teammates from 54 key passes, although Herrera was largely used further forward than he will be expected to operate for United.

However, two of his five La Liga assists last season came in the four matches the 24-year-old was deployed in the middle of the park, according to WhoScored.com, so a Man Utd central-midfield that laid on just one Premier League strike last term will be perked up by his presence.

Shaw looks to be on his way as well, and while The Red Devils are hardly in desperate need of a new left-back, the likelihood that they’ll spend upwards of £30m on the 18-year-old suggests the shopping won’t stop there.

The areas of greatest need for United are still midfield and central-defence, with a pacy wideman also required despite the pending arrival of the marauding Shaw, and it seems the red half of Manchester are paying their noisy neighbours a huge compliment by taking a leaf out of their book.

When Manchester City surrendered their Premier League title in 2012/13, they dispatched with beleaguered boss Roberto Mancini, bringing in a respected coach and five players costing £100m combined, of which four arrived before the end of July.

There was nothing like the chaos that ensued  following the departures of Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill from Old Trafford, when David Moyes and Ed Woodward made unrealistic assumptions about which Spanish midfielders were up for the job of rebuilding Man Utd.

New coach Louis van Gaal wouldn’t have taken the job without airtight assurances that he would be able to compete with the best around, and the Red Devils are still at least four big buys short of the required standard, so the Dutch coach is certain to spend more.

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Alex Fortune