After Saturday’s confirmation by both the club and the player himself, it is now official that Ander Herrera will be leaving Manchester United once his current contract expires at the end of June.
Throughout his five years at Old Trafford, he has gone on to win the EFL Cup, FA Cup and the Europa League whilst managing to make just fewer than 200 appearances in all competition. On top of that, it can be stated that he is one of the popular figures within the club’s fanbase, regarded as an individual that gets what it means to play for the team and how he gives everything on the pitch.
Meanwhile, it leaves United with more serious work to do with their summer rebuilding job, as they were already lacking the much needed quality and depth in midfield. With Marouane Fellaini gone in January and Herrera about to leave in a couple of weeks or so, the manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to keep a good look in the transfer market for a defensive-midfielder and a box to box player.
With no further ado, here are the three main candidates to replace the Spanish international…
Abdoulaye Doucoure – Watford
The United board and Ed Woodward have constantly chosen for the bigger name players and individuals past their prime years. However, when finding the perfect and most intelligent of midfielders it can be shrewd to review and analyse within the Premier League itself, something that the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have done really well over the last couple of years.
On that note, Watford’s Abdoulaye Doucoure would potentially be the ideal individual to have in United’s midfield, someone who has the capability to complete the required interceptions and tackles as well as progress with the ball through his burst of pace and dribbling ability. It’s no surprise that he has been linked with clubs such as Chelsea, Everton and Paris Saint-Germain.
Still only 26-years-old, the central midfielder has shown off his attributes and skills on both sides of the pitch, which is something that the Red Devils are missing from the current set of midfielders. From being in the right place at the right time to understanding when to press forward and when to sit deep, Dourcoure is the type of player that United could do with for the next couple of years.
Igor Zubeldia – Real Sociedad
If United were to complete some shrewd business, then La Liga would be the place to look for Ander Herrera’s replacement, a league that is filled with players that are technically great and are not afraid of going into challenges and tackles with full commitment. Looking at the last couple of seasons, it’s quite a surprise that the club have not gone onto to buy many players from Spain.
On the other hand, should United dig deep into the Spanish League to find a player, they should look no further than Igor Zubeldia, who has had a great campaign in his second full season in top-flight football. Playing at the heart of Real Sociedad’s midfield, either as a defensive-midfielder or central-midfielder, he is able to provide the protection to the backline whilst recycle the ball effectively.
For sure, the questions will be raised by the Premier League experts and Manchester United supporters on who the player is, but no one knew who Ander Herrera was at the start and he turned out to be one of the side’s most crucial individuals over the four to five years. And if the €50million release clause happens to be true, Igor Zubeldia could go onto be one of the signings of the summer.
Youri Tielemans – AS Monaco
With his loan deal at Leicester City now coming to an end, it can fairly be stated that Youri Tielemans enjoyed his time in England and the Premier League even if it was for only five months. Notching three goals and four assists in only 11 league appearances, he has instantly showed his intelligence and ability to adapt in a new league, something that a number of summer signings have failed to do.
The Belgian international took a number of people by surprise, as he was predicted to not feature on a weekly basis whilst expected to start very low in the pecking order within the midfield department. However, it did not take him long to win over the Premier League pundits and the Leicester City supporters, as his final third contributions and composure in midfield has been pleasing to watch.
Overall, it is unlikely that he will return to France and play for AS Monaco on a regular basis, who are currently near the relegation zone in Ligue 1 and are just about fighting for survival. No matter how it ends for Leonardo Jardim’s men, a number of the key players will want to leave the club in the summer, especially Youri Tielemans, given that he is already a wanted man in all the top leagues.