Ander Herrera set for return to Bilbao

Manchester United’s deal for Brazilian star Fred seems to have paved the way for Ander Herrera’s return to La Liga.

Athletic Bilbao, Herrera’s former club, are prepared to make the Spaniard their highest-paid player in order to get him to return to San Mames, according to Spanish publication AS via MailOnline.

The Basque-born player has been a bit-part player under Mourinho, despite impressing under Louis van Gaal at Manchester United, and is also wanted by AC Milan, according to the The Sun.

What’s the story?

Herrera, who is valued at £27m by transfermarkt.com, has been a bit-part player since Mourinho’s arrival at Old Trafford, and despite his best efforts in short cameos, is largely viewed as surplus to requirements at Manchester United.

He has had moments of brilliance, including his appearance against Chelsea in which he was instructed to man-mark Eden Hazard at Old Trafford in April 2017. The purchase of Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder, Fred, will further push the Spaniard down the pecking order.

His role has developed somewhat since his move from Bilbao, at one point seen as a box-to-box midfielder, but he is now largely used as a ball-winner, tasked with playing basic roles, and one would think the Spanish international would jump at the chance of returning home, where he is still highly regarded.

What would he bring to Bilbao?

He fits the recruitment policy of the Basque club – the club’s traditions means that they can only buy Basque players.

Herrera has undoubted ability and is a measured passer of the ball who is not scared in the tackle.

Herrera might perhaps demand a higher wage than Bilbao would generally pay, but a return to Spain is possible should a deal be struck.

What it means for Manchester United is a different story. Mourinho is reportedly not willing to part with the midfielder should a suitable replacement not be found, especially with the likely departure of Marouane Fellaini, who is set to move away due to a reduced role in the United side.