Ander Herrera

Why Man Utd won't re-sign Ander Herrera from PSG

Jamie Spencer
Man Utd have been linked with former midfielder Ander Herrera
Man Utd have been linked with former midfielder Ander Herrera / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Manchester United fans hoping the club could re-sign Ander Herrera in the wake of Paris Saint-Germain’s capture of Lionel Messi are likely to be disappointed.

Messi’s arrival in Paris could spark a fire sale at Parc des Princes, with up to ten fringe or ageing players thought to be available for transfer or loan as the club seeks to reduce its wage bill to a more manageable and sustainable level.

Herrera, who joined PSG as a free agent in 2019 after failing to agree a new contract to remain at United, is one of those named as ‘expendable’ in a report by The Athletic alongside the likes of Idrissa Gueye, Thilo Kehrer and Mauro Icardi.

The Spaniard played only sparingly in his first season with PSG because of injury and the eventual cancellation of the Ligue 1 season as the coronavirus pandemic took hold. But he made 45 appearances in all competitions in 2020/21 and started PSG’s first league game of the new season.

As such, Herrera is actually described as having a ‘desire to stay’ with the French giants.

There is a lot of sentiment involved in the speculation about a United return. He was a fan favourite at Old Trafford, but the rumours have so far been driven by the hopeful pleas of supporters on social media rather than by any real substance or genuine interest from the club.

Herrera was voted United’s fans’ player of the year in 2016/17 and many tipped him to be a future captain. His passion for the club was clear to see and he appeared to take United’s core values, philosophies and traditions to heart.

The way he spoke about playing at Old Trafford, revealing it became his dream to join United as early as 2012 when he was an opposing player for Athletic Club, also captured the hearts of fans.

But a return for Herrera now doesn’t really add up. He is 32 this month and even at his peak in 2016/17 didn’t start more than 30 Premier League games for United – most of the time it was fewer than 20 league starts each season. He was, for all intents and purposes, a rotation player.

There is no shame in that because rotational players like Park Ji-sung, Darren Fletcher and Phil Neville were crucial to United’s years of success under Sir Alex Ferguson. But the reason Herrera couldn’t agree a new deal was because the club wanted to lower his salary to reflect that status.

Ander Herrera
Ander Herrera was a fan favourite at Man Utd between 2014 and 2019 / Michael Regan/Getty Images

In the end, PSG were willing to offer him a contract worth a reported £350,000 per week and there was an easy decision to make, even though he later admitted he ideally wanted to stay.

At his age, it would be unlikely that he would play any more often for United in a second spell. The squad has considerably improved since 2019 and Herrera would be a bit-part player at most. For that kind of role, he would have to accept only a fraction of his PSG wages and that would be a misstep on his part when he still has another three years left on that hugely lucrative deal.

United have moved on since Herrera left. Scott McTominay has cemented himself as a regular first-team starter, while Fred is now much better than he was during a patchy debut season and United are yet to see the best of Donny van de Beek.

The club do still want another central midfielder, but the club’s eye is on much younger talents who can develop and be United players for the long-term like Declan Rice or Ruben Neves.

Unlike when Edinson Cavani was signed as an emergency stop-gap up front last year, United’s other midfielders ensure the situation isn’t urgent enough to warrant an expensive short-term plug, especially when Nemanja Matic has been in resurgent form in pre-season and could so a similar job.

Re-signing Herrera would be one for the heart, but it just doesn’t work for the head.

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