COMMENT: Everyone wants to feel appreciated. Valued. And Ander Herrera has been getting plenty of that over the past week. Though not from Manchester...
If it was a flyer. The stuff of agents. It didn't just hit the mark. It struck gold. Unlike those stories of Barcelona having him under consideration. Of a reunion with Ernesto Valverde, his old coach at Athletic Bilbao. The latest put forward regarding Herrera and PSG must have exceeded all expectations for the Basque's camp.
Whether some genuine contact exists. Or doesn't. It no longer matters. It's job done. Pundits and journalists up and down France are pulling this one apart. Some are questioning the deal. Others encouraging it. And many ex-pros, some with real success to their name, are showering Herrera with praise.
We raise the idea of this being a 'plant' with no thoughts of condemnation. If it was simply agents putting it about, you can hardly blame them. Indeed, this column would congratulate them.
Herrera has been underappreciated at United. Almost taken for granted. Not just by the board, with their dithering over the midfielder's contract. But also by the managers he's served these past five years. For all his energy. His leadership. His sacrifice. You never get the feeling Herrera is a first-choice at United. Every preseason, he's always had to fight from way back in the queue. And this column knows such a perception is something also felt by Herrera and those close to him.
Now this isn't Herrera, but there are many players who need that 'pick-me-up' through the press. They need to know they're being talked about. Looked at. More often than not, it's about the player's self-confidence - his ego - rather than any desire to skip out on his current club. So what do agents do to lift their client? They drop a little line to a trusted journalist. Just letting the confidant know 'such-and-such' is keeping tabs on his player. Next thing, a story is in the papers, the player sees his name in the headlines. And the lad is bouncing again.
"He can be the good complement to Marco Verratti. He's a real number 6."
And over the weekend, respected L'Equipe journalist Vincent Duluc said Herrera was "one of the most complete midfielders in Europe".
Now filtering it's way back to the red tops in England, there's news of a £150,000-a-week offer on the table from the Parisians. Concrete? Who knows? But, again, it's a headline that does it's job. While Herrera gets word (finally) of how highly he's regarded on the continent. Ed Woodward, United's prime dealmaker, now finds himself under pressure to act with this PSG speculation gathering pace amongst English scribes.
In the meantime, Herrera was in Spain over the weekend (it's criminal he has only two caps to his name) offering more reasons why United should be getting his signature on a contract as priority. Herrera's value felt as much off the pitch as on it. It's reason enough why one of Jose Mourinho's final acts before his sacking in December was to urge Woodward to get Herrera's deal done.
This isn't a 'passing through' pro. Someone who's simply there to clock on. Do the job. And get out. Herrera isn't built like that. And when you consider what he has done for he and his Dad's former club Real Zaragoza, you do wonder if United actually know what they have on their hands.
Back home, Herrera agreed to an extended interview with local paper, El Periodico de Aragon. And he didn't hold back. Herrera revealing he had a hand in convincing Zaragoza icon Victor Fernandez, who is close to his father, Pedro, to return as coach. Raising the prospect of investing in the club. And also playing out his final days with the Blanquillos. He then went onto name-check several of first team, tipping the 20 year-old Alberto Soro for big things "he reminds me of Juan Mata". Just what could that same enthusiasm do for the connection between the support and the players at United? But of course, it takes someone inside the club to recognise what they have.
As for those PSG stories, again Herrera was completely honest - and considered: "It is logical when you have three months of contract and there is the international break. I already knew something was going to come out.
"I do not go crazy with what will happen in four months, so I do not know if my stage (in England) is over.
"If you deserve some things and if you are an honest and hardworking person, they arrive."
Problem is, those "things". That "deserved" recognition. It's a little thin on the ground in Manchester. Herrera needs to feel appreciated. He deserves it.
It shouldn't be left to ex-pros in France to tell him how good he's been for Manchester United.
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