Athletic Club Serious About Pursuit Of Ander Herrera, But Willing To Wait Until Next Summer
Athletic Club are already working on plans to strengthen the squad this summer and have placed a premium on improving the midfield. Eibar captain Dani Garcia, who will see his contract expire next month, has already agreed to make the switch to the San Mamés and the Lions are said to be targeting Newcastle’s Mikel Merino and Manchester United’s Ander Herrera. The Basques have been chasing Merino for nearly two years now, but believe they will be able to finalize a deal this time around. On the other hand, bringing Herrera back to the club will be extremely difficult, but Athletic are not giving hope of securing the transfer.
According to a recent report from Nika Cuenca of Fiebre Rojiblanca, Athletic are serious about their pursuit of Herrera and believe he is a realistic target. Soon-to-be-named manager Eduardo Berizzo has reportedly asked the club to make Herrera a priority and that is exactly what they are doing. The Basques understand that the midfielder will demand a large fee, at least the €32 million Manchester United originally paid for him, and that will be hard to justify with Herrera turning 29 in just a few months. That being the case, Cuenca goes on to say that Athletic are willing to wait until next summer if necessary because Herrera will be completing his contract and could be free.
Athletic aren’t the only ones chasing Herrera. AC Milan have been linked with the midfielder for a while now, but their troubles with UEFA could put them out of the running. Meanwhile, fellow La Liga side Atletico Madrid are also interested which could complicate things. Herrera has remained clear about the fact that he wants to see out his contract with Manchester United which means that it is unlikely that he will move this summer unless the English club is swayed by a big offer. Athletic are hesitant to overspend on an aging player, but they knows what Herrera can bring to the team and are willing to pay big if the 28-year-old asks to return to the San Mamés this summer. If they can’t work out a deal they will heavily pursue him next year when he will be free to leave.
With Herrera’s price tag so high, Athletic are also serious about finally landing Mikel Merino. The Basques reached a transfer agreement with Newcastle in January, as well as personal terms with the 21-year-old, but manager Rafa Benitez vetoed the deal because he didn’t have time to find a replacement. Now the two clubs are scheduled to meet in June in hopes of working out a transfer. If Athletic are able to sign Merino they could choose to wait until next year for Herrera, but their interest in both players is very real and President Josu Urrutia is ready to make moves this summer in order to rebound from a disappointing season.