Ander Herrera Agüera (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈandeɾ eˈreɾa aˈɣweɾa]; born 14 August 1989) is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for English club Manchester United and the Spain national team.

He began his career at Real Zaragoza, before moving to Athletic Bilbao in 2011 and then to Manchester United for €36 million in 2014. He was named the club's player of the year in the 2016–17 season.

He has won tournaments with Spain at under-20 and under-21 level and represented the nation at the 2012 Olympics. He made his senior international debut in November 2016.

Club career

Real Zaragoza

Born in Bilbao, Herrera began his football career at Real Zaragoza and made his professional debut in the Segunda División in the 2008–09 season. He made 19 appearances that season as the Aragonese club made an immediate return to La Liga. He made his top-flight debut on 29 August 2009, in a 1–0 home win against CD Tenerife.[10]

During the 2009–10 campaign, Herrera was one of Real Zaragoza's most used players as the club managed to retain its top-flight status. He scored his first league goal on 6 December, but in a 4–1 away defeat to RCD Mallorca.[12]

In 2010–11, Herrera continued to feature regularly for Real Zaragoza, under both José Aurelio Gay and his successor Javier Aguirre.

Athletic Bilbao

On 7 February 2011, he agreed to join Athletic Bilbao on a five-year contract for a reported €7.5 million effective as of 1 July. Buyout clauses were set at €36 million in his first three seasons and €40 million in the remainder.[13]

Herrera made his official debut for Athletic Bilbao on 18 August 2011, playing the full 90 minutes in a 0–0 home draw against Trabzonspor in the 2011–12 UEFA Europa League. He appeared in 54 official matches and scored four goals in his first season with the Basque club, who reached the finals of both the Copa del Rey and the Europa League. In his third and final season he played 33 league games as Athletic qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in 16 years.

Manchester United

Herrera was the subject of a £24 million offer from Manchester United in August 2013, but the bid was rejected by Athletic Bilbao.[14] A year later, Manchester United tried to sign him again. On 26 June 2014, Athletic Bilbao announced on their official website that they had rejected a €36 million (£28.85 million) bid from Manchester United for Herrera.[15] Athletic Bilbao later confirmed that Herrera had activated his buyout clause, allowing United to sign him.[40] Manchester United announced on the same day they had completed the signing of Herrera on a four-year contract, pending the receipt of an International Transfer Certificate.[83]

2014–15 season

Herrera made his Manchester United debut on 23 July 2014, in the first match of the club's pre-season tour of the United States, playing the full 90 minutes and making three assists in the 7–0 win over LA Galaxy.[2] His competitive debut came in the opening game of the Premier League season on 16 August, a 2–1 home defeat to Swansea City. He played 67 minutes before being substituted for Marouane Fellaini.[2] Herrera picked up an injury during training and missed Manchester United's next two games against Sunderland and Burnley.[2] In his first game back after returning from injury, against Queens Park Rangers on 14 September 2014, he scored his first goal for the club and made an assist as Manchester United won the game 4–0.[2] He scored again in United's next game, flicking in Ángel Di María's shot with his backheel in their 5–3 defeat to newly promoted Leicester City on 21 September.[2]

Herrera scored his first FA Cup goal with a dipping effort in a third round tie against Yeovil Town on 4 January 2015.[2] Herrera followed his cup goal against Yeovil with an important equalising goal against Preston North End in the FA Cup fifth round; United would go on to win the tie 3–1 and progress to the quarter final stage.[2] Herrera started a Premier League game for the first time since 2 December against Swansea City, scoring United's only goal – his fifth of the season – in a 2–1 defeat.[2] On 4 April, Herrera scored the first brace of his career to help United beat Aston Villa 3–1; he was also named man of the match for his performances.[2]

2015–16 season

On 26 August 2015, in his first start of the season, provided an assist for Wayne Rooney's second goal and scored the fourth goal in a 4–0 win (7–1 aggregate) over Belgian side Club Brugge in the second leg of their Champions League play-off.[2] He scored his second goal of the season from the penalty spot in Manchester United's 3–1 home win over Liverpool on 12 September.[10] His good form continued with a Man of the Match performance in a 3–0 win against Everton at Goodison Park, in which he scored United's second – heading in from a Marcos Rojo cross, and assisting Rooney's goal in the 2nd Half.[10]

On 25 February 2016, Herrera scored his first European goal at Old Trafford – a powerfully converted penalty in the latter stages of a 5–1 defeat of FC Midtjylland, in the Round of 32 of the Europa League.[10] Later that week, on 28 February, Herrera scored the winning goal in a 3–2 victory over Arsenal.[10] On 23 April, Herrera featured in United's triumph in the FA Cup Semi-final over Everton at Wembley; on as an 87th-minute substitute for Marouane Fellaini with the score tied at 1–1, Herrera played a one-two with Anthony Martial, sending the Frenchman through on goal to score a dramatic injury-time winner to seal a 2–1 win and send United through to the final.[10] United went on to beat Crystal Palace 2–1 in the final, securing the cup and Herrera's first major honour with United.[10]

2016–17 season

Herrera's role initially remained limited to substitute appearances under new manager, José Mourinho, with Fellaini preferred in midfield alongside world record signing Paul Pogba. Herrera did, however, start in United's League Cup third round tie versus Northampton Town, and duly registered his first goal of the 2016–17 campaign in his side's 3–1 victory.[10] He was subsequently retained in the starting lineup for the Premier League game against champions Leicester City, and helped his side register a comfortable 4–1 win.[10] Herrera was roundly lauded for his performances both against Leicester City and in the games that followed, and was named man of the match for helping Manchester United restrict free-scoring Liverpool to a 0–0 draw at Anfield.[10][10]

On 26 February, he was named in the starting XI for the EFL Cup Final win against Southampton at Wembley Stadium, and contributed an assist for Zlatan Ibrahimović's second goal of the match which gave United a 3–2 lead and eventually proved to be the winning goal[10] and secured Herrera's second major trophy with United, having also won the 2016 FA Cup Final under then United manager Louis van Gaal.[10] Having been sent off against Chelsea on 13 March at Stamford Bridge in their FA Cup quarter-final match,[10] he turned up with a man of the match display on 16 April against the same team at Old Trafford in the Premier League by shackling Eden Hazard,[10] assisting Marcus Rashford for the first goal, then he himself got on the scoresheet by scoring the second goal which secured a 2–0 win for United which kept them in the hunt for a top-four finish and extending their unbeaten run to twenty-two matches.[10][10]

On 18 May 2017, Herrera was presented with the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award.[44] After helping Manchester United win the 2017 UEFA Europa League Final on 24 May, Herrera was awarded the game's man of the match accolade, which he dedicated to victims of the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing which occurred a few days earlier.[45]

International career

Herrera was a member of the Spain under-20 squad which won gold in football at the 2009 Mediterranean Games in Pescara, Italy.[153]

Herrera was selected by Spanish under-21 coach Luis Milla to the 2011 UEFA European Championship in Denmark. On 12 June, in the group stage opener against England, he scored a controversial goal in an eventual 1–1 draw.[10] In the final against Switzerland, through another header, Herrera netted the first goal in an eventual 2–0 win in Aarhus.[12]

He received his first senior call-up on 3 October 2016, for 2018 World Cup qualification fixtures against Italy and Albania, but did not feature in either game.[12] He made his senior international debut against England, at Wembley Stadium, on 15 November 2016, coming on as a second-half substitute in a 2–2 draw.[12]

Style of play

Herrera's style of play led to comparisons with former United legend Paul Scholes,[12][12] and he was praised by the man himself as United's best signing of the 2014 summer transfer window.[12]

Personal life

Herrera's father, Pedro María, was also a footballer and a midfielder. He too played for Real Zaragoza and also for Celta de Vigo (in a total of three professional clubs), and at both clubs he served as general manager.[12][12] His girlfriend is Isabel Collado.[12]

Career statistics

Club

As of match played 17 December 2017[12][58]
ClubSeasonLeagueNational CupLeague CupEuropeOtherTotal
DivisionAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoals
Real Zaragoza B2008–09Tercera División102102
Real Zaragoza2008–09Segunda División19200192
2009–10La Liga30220322
2010–11La Liga33220352
Total82640866
Athletic Bilbao2011–12La Liga32192131544
2012–13La Liga2912041352
2013–14La Liga33560395
Total94717217212811
Manchester United2014–15Premier League2665200318
2015–16Premier League273601072415
2016–17Premier League31130619010502
2017–18Premier League15000205010230
Total9910142912122014515
Career total28525354913842036934

International

As of match played 28 March 2017[13]
Appearances and goals by national team and year
National teamYearAppsGoals
Spain201610
201710
Total20

Honours

Club

Manchester United[58]

International

Spain U21[58]
Spain U20[58]

Individual