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Transfer Focus: Man United will give themselves thinking time with Herrera extension

Per Manchester Evening News, Manchester United intend to activate a twelve-month extension clause in Ander Herrera’s contract if they don’t agree a new deal with the Spain international before the end of the year.

What’s the word?

There are a number of first team players on the books at Old Trafford whose contracts expire at the end of the season – chiefly Juan Mata, Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Daley Blind and Ander Herrera – and it appears the Red Devils are keen to agree a new contract with the latter at the very least.

But if they don’t reach an agreement over a new deal by the end of 2017, Herrera will be allowed to enter pre-contract negotiations with other clubs in January when his contract enters its final six months.

Jose Mourinho has refused to let players in the final twelve months of their deals run down their contracts but United have a fail-safe option – triggering a year-long extension option in Herrera’s current terms.

What’s the benefit?

One only need look at the situation at Arsenal to consider how detrimental it can be to let contracts wind down. Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil are the biggest talents at Arsene Wenger’s disposal by quite some distance, but both are now just a few months away from being able to discuss a free transfer for the summer with other clubs. The under-fire Arsenal boss has even admitted the situation could force him to sell the pair in January – quite the conundrum considering how important they are to the team.

Extending Herrera’s contract by twelve months, although not providing a definitive conclusion over his future, gives United the breathing space to thrash out a new deal without being put under pressure by the player or his representatives to meet a nearing deadline. Considering Herrera’s current role within the squad, that could be pivotal to ensuring the Red Devils secure the right value-for-money from their perspective.

Likewise, much like Sanchez and Ozil at Arsenal, Mourinho would be loathed to cash-in on the midfielder halfway through the season, especially considering United’s hopes of winning the title, because the club can’t agree a new deal in time. According to Don Balon, Barcelona are aware of the situation and interested in a January swoop.

How important is Herrera?

Herrera surprisingly emerged as Mourinho’s midfield general last season, seemingly transforming from mercurial playmaker to dogged enforcer. But the arrival of Nemanja Matic in the summer has essentially squeezed him out of the side and he’s now potentially even behind Fellini in the pecking order when all of Mourinho’s options in the engine room are fully fit.

That’s why the second half of the season could be so important in determining Herrera’s contract. While there’s no suggestion from MEN that United are actively looking to sell, it makes sense not to offer the two-cap Spaniard a bumper contract if the doesn’t make Mourinho’s strongest XI. The remainder of 2017/18 will provide a barometer of how important Herrera still is within the squad, and the club can present terms accordingly.

The other reason to extend Herrera’s contract is quite simply that the club would be throwing money away – imagine how much Arsenal would have got if they cashed in on Sanchez and Ozil last summer compared to the end of the season when they could both leave for free, or even in January when Arsenal could be forced to sell at a reduced rate. Transfermarkt value the former Bilbao man at £27million – that’s a tidy sum Mourinho could use in the transfer market if the club do eventually decide to move Herrera on.

Article title: Transfer Focus: Man United will give themselves thinking time with Herrera extension

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