Ander Herrera takes the lead role in today’s episode of Jose Mourinho-focused transfer gossip, with the Spaniard outed as the latest player the new Manchester United manager wants rid of.
The Daily Express report that Mourinho ‘sees no future’ at Old Trafford for the £29m signing.
Having allegedly outlined Juan Mata and Daley Blind as money-generating makeweights already, it would appear the Portuguese has designs on a sizeable overhaul at United this summer, but where does that leave Herrera?
A return to Spain seems the most logical option, but aside from La Liga’s three heaviest hitters – who appear to have no obvious need for such a player – it’s doubtful whether any club in his native land could afford him.
Working off this premise, extending his Premier League tenure away from the Theatre of Dreams looks to be Herrera’s only alternative if he wants to play first-team football next term.
However, he lacks the quality to oust a starter from Arsenal, Chelsea or Tottenham Hotspur, while United traditionally abstain from entering negotiations with arch rivals Liverpool and Manchester City.
This being the case, a transfer to one of the top-flight’s lesser-celebrated sides seems the most likely move for the former Athletic Bilbao schemer, with two options standing out above all others.
The first is Stoke City, whose ambitious manager Mark Hughes favours expensive acquisitions cast aside from elite outfits.
His first-choice playmaking force, Ibrahim Afellay, suffered a knee ligament injury that will rule him out long term.
In the Dutchman’s absence towards the end of last term, the Potters were playing Glenn Whelan and Charlie Adam alongside one another at the base of midfield; Herrera is undoubtedly an upgrade on this ageing duo, who surely can’t be entrusted to play such crucial roles in a team hoping to break into the Premier League’s top six.
The second is Leicester City, who have the lure of Champions League football to compete for players of this calibre.
With star midfielder N’Golo Kante reportedly the subject of interest from several fatter felines, the Foxes could soon have a gaping void to fill.
The arrival of Herrera would necessitate a middle-band reshuffle (probably with Danny Drinkwater being tasked to do more dog work), but his quality would make it worthwhile. In addition, he’s suitably high-profile to raise supporter spirits in the event of their title-winning heroes departing.