Manchester United’s year-long pursuit of Atletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera looks finally to have come to a pleasing conclusion for all involved with United, as they have activated the 24-year-old’s £28 million release clause.
The Spaniard is set to become Louis van Gaal’s first signing of the summer since, and he will hope that Herrera will be able to fill the void left by Paul Scholes’ retirement – a position the club have struggled to adequately fill.
With a possible £200 million budget for the summer, van Gaal will hope Herrera is going to be one of many incoming recruits.
The Dutch boss is in the ideal position to cast his eyes over the talent on show at the World Cup, with a number of names being thrown around the transfer speculation network.
Here are SIX players who look set to be joining Herrera at Old Trafford next season.
In Depay’s two substitute appearances so far this World Cup he has contributed two goals and an assist. His impactful displays have caught the eye of many around the world, but they won’t come as a shock to van Gaal. The United boss knows Depay well from his time in charge of the Dutch national side, and he has used the youngster to great effect so far in Brazil.
With 12 goals and seven assists in the Eredivisie last season, Depay has contributed effectively from the left side last season for PSV. His speed in possession and ability to cut inside and shoot from distance makes him a direct threat on goal, and a nightmare for his opposition defence. United may face a battle for his signature this summer, but with van Gaal on-board, few would bet against the Red Devils securing his transfer.
Southampton’s 18-year-old has yet to feature this World Cup, with the experience being used as more of a learning curve for the youngster. However, he is set to make his competitive bow as England face up in their final group game against the World Cup’s surprise package, Costa Rica. Shaw’s burgeoning reputation has received admiring glances from United, with the club looking set to make a big-money move for him this summer.
Shaw’s positional awareness and his discipline on the left have seen the youngster’s price skyrocket this season, with it believed he will cost as much as £30 million. Shaw’s potential move won’t hinge on his World Cup display, but it could just confirm for those who are slightly unsure as to his future role for his country. Van Gaal will no doubt be a keen observer.
Mexico have been one of the most impressive all-round sides so far in Brazil, with their mixture of defensive nous, ball retention, work-rate and devastating attacks down the wings all making for an intriguing prospect for the last 16. Arguably their finest defensive performer so far has been Espanyol’s Hector Moreno.
The Mexican has been Espanyol’s stand-out performer for the best part of two seasons now, and the continuation of his good form on the global stage has done his stock the world of good. His strength in the air, and composure in passing the ball out from defence have been key features of his play so far. Van Gaal will get his chance to face up against Mexico in the last 16, so he can get a real sense of what Moreno is all about.
The three-man defence that van Gaal has tended to deploy so far this World Cup has allowed for his wing-backs to impact each game in an attacking sense, and none more so than Ajax’s Daley Blind. The 24-year-old has even filled in at central defence as a result of the injury to Bruno Martins Indi, demonstrating his phenomenal versatility.
Blind’s pinpoint crossing and his energy up and down the left side have gained much credit from pundits this summer, most notably during his performance in the Netherlands’ outstanding 5-1 demolition of Spain in their first game. With United looking to the future for a replacement for Patrice Evra, Blind looks like another option for van Gaal to select from in the summer transfer window.
The Arsenal captain (in name only) lost his starting role in the club’s centre of defence to the pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, and has been unable to regain the position. A particularly disappointing campaign for the Belgian was compounded in lifting the FA Cup trophy, without having featured in the final. Van Gaal is believed to be interested in bringing Vermaelen to United in order to revive his career.
The ex-Ajax man was a prolific goalscorer in his first two seasons at Arsenal. Despite his lack of height, his athleticism more than made up for it, making him a formidable opponent for the toughest of strikers. With just one year left on his Arsenal contract, the club will likely look to cash in on him this summer as opposed to risk losing him on a free next year.
Despite his popularity in the blue half of Manchester, van Gaal is reported to be looking to bring the ex-City destroyer to Old Trafford this summer. United lacked a lot of physicality and solidity in central midfield this season, and De Jong’s aggression would help add the much-needed bite for the start of the next.
De Jong has been outstanding for the Dutch in Brazil, with his ability to sniff out mistakes in midfield often seeing him win the ball back in areas to release Arjen Robben on his rampaging runs forwards. United’s conservative approach in midfield last season was one of many much-maligned features of their stagnant play, and De Jong’s physical style would help eradicate the problems of yesteryear.