When murmurs about Ander Herrera’s future at Manchester United began to surface around 12 months ago, there was concern among many supporters over the prospect of, quite probably, the club’s most dependable midfielder leaving on a free transfer.
Herrera did not have Paul Pogba’s star quality, nor was he as commanding as Nemanja Matic, but, as an overall package, he was one of the most reliable players in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad.
United wanted to keep him but they dithered over a new contract and, by the time they stepped up their efforts to commit the Basque to a new deal, his head had been turned by Paris Saint-Germain.
Herrera’s move to France was confirmed by United before the Premier League campaign had even concluded and he was not included in the Reds’ matchday squad for their final game of last season, the 2-0 home defeat by Cardiff.
Before the official confirmation of Herrera’s transfer, Paul Scholes gave a typically blunt verdict on the matter.
“Ander Herrera, I wouldn’t worry about. I wouldn’t worry about him.”
Although United’s midfield struggled during the first half of this season due to a combination of injuries, poor form and lack of personnel, there have not been many moments when fans have been left bemoaning Herrera’s exit – and there certainly haven’t been any over the last couple of months.
United’s supporters knew something had been missing prior to Bruno Fernandes’ arrival but they didn’t exactly know what it was.
The Portugal international has had a transformative effect on United on a seismic scale. The team has not lost since Fernandes signed nearly two months ago and he has been as talismanic as Herrera was capable of being but with the world-class talent that the PSG man lacked.
Fernandes is not the only impressive cog in United’s midfield though. Fred has been outstanding for several months and is unrecognisable from the player that floundered last term.
Herrera would not get in United’s team over Fred.
Scott McTominay is improving, Nemanja Matic is revitalised and Paul Pogba is returning, although it is not yet clear how long he will be sticking around when he is back.
It seemed unlikely six months ago but United now have a midfield that is capable of mixing it with the best and Herrera is not missed.
Scholes was right not to worry.