Athletic Bilbao: We've rejected Manchester United's Ander Herrera bid

The midfielder has agreed personal terms with the Premier League club but the Spaniards are keen to retain one of their prized assets and have snubbed the latest offer


Athletic Bilbao have rejected Manchester United’s €36 million [£28.5m] bid for Ander Herrera.

The Spanish playmaker was expected to complete a move to Old Trafford this week, having already agreed personal terms with the Red Devils, but United must still agree a fee for a player the Basque club remain keen to retain.

A statment read: “The Athletic Club wishes to report that we have this week rejected an offer from Manchester United of €36 million for the transfer rights of Ander Herrera.”

Herrera was given a tour of United’s training ground on Wednesday, having said his goodbyes to his Athletic team-mates.

However, the two clubs have yet to settle on a price for the 24-year-old, though United remain confident of eventually acquiring his signature, despite Athletic’s famously tough negotiating skills.

United have been chasing Herrera for over a year, with David Moyes exploring the possibility of signing the midfielder last summer.

However, that pursuit ended in farce, with imposters posing as United intermediaries attempting to negotiate with the Spanish club on transfer deadline day.

Meet Louis van Gaal's prospective first Manchester United signing: Ander Herrera

The 24-year-old arrived at Carrington on Wednesday ahead of the completion of his transfer from Athletic Bilbao and is set to provide a dynamic all-round option for Louis van Gaal


PROFILE
By George Ankers

There are a lot of things that Manchester United would like to have done differently in the transition out of the Sir Alex Ferguson era.

Though there were plenty of increasingly hideous moments on the pitch throughout David Moyes’s disastrous reign, the revelation that there were imposters of some kind in Spain looking to tie up a deal for Athletic Bilbao’s Ander Herrera without the club’s knowledge might have been the true nadir.

United’s identification of the Spaniard as a central midfield target ended in a rejected €32 million [£25.5m] bid and a comically unprofessional chase from whichever representatives ended up talking to Athletic. But it is telling that they have moved quickly after the appointment of Louis van Gaal to go back and do the deal properly this time.

The 24-year-old arrived at the club’s Carrington training ground on Wednesday afternoon with a team doctor on the scene, and a €35m [£28m] deal is expected to be completed shortly.

Though not called up by Vicente del Bosque to the Spain squad for World Cup 2014, Ander – as he is referred to in his home country – might have added some much-needed zest to a midfield which turned surprisingly stale in Brazil. As is the case for so many of his compatriots, he would probably have earned dozens of caps for any other nation by this point.

The Red Devils have arguably been searching for presence and class in the centre of their midfield since Roy Keane’s retirement. Though Ander is probably one or two steps below some of their other reported targets – Toni Kroos or Arturo Vidal, to name but two of an almost embarrassingly long list – he looks like exactly the sort of player required.

The 24-year-old is most notable for his creative side but despite being rather slight of build, does not shy away from the defensive side of midfield duty and enjoys getting stuck in. Four red cards in his career to date suggest that he has not yet mastered the art but he is certainly ready to hold his own in a Premier League midfield.

Ander’s skills with the ball at his feet are, naturally, what will likely excite fans the most. A member of the Athletic team who exposed United so classily in the Europa League under Marcelo Bielsa in 2011-12, Red Devils fans know only too well his fine technique and teamwork.

As keen to shoot as he is to dribble – which is to say, quite keen indeed as only six midfielders made more attempts on goal than him in La Liga last season – the Spaniard made a key contribution as Athletic finished fourth despite being shorn of star striker Fernando Llorente.

The midfielder is quite capable of making an impact in big games, as evidenced by his opening goal in Spain’s 2-0 triumph over Switzerland in the Under-21s European Championships final in 2011, and he offers a more dynamic all-round midfield package than the likes of Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini.

Ander is not about to solve all of United’s problems on his own but it is a promising sign that the first signing of the Van Gaal era will be a central midfielder of his quality. If they continue to buy well, the young Basque should prosper at Old Trafford.

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‘Stop calling me greedy’ – Sagna hits back at Arsenal fans

The defender says he wants to set the record straight and denied accusations that money was behind his decision to sign for Manchester City at the end of his Gunners contract


By Greg Stobart in Rio de Janeiro

Bacary Sagna has hit back at Arsenal fans and insisted that he did not move to Manchester City for financial reasons.

The French defender has signed a three-year deal with City and will formally join the Premier League champions on a free transfer when his Arsenal contract expires on June 30.

A number of Gunners fans have accused Sagna of being greedy but the 31-year-old is adamant that the need for a fresh start was the driving force behind his decision to quit after seven years in north London.

“I’m going to clear everything up because I keep reading that I did it for money and I’m greedy,” said Sagna following France’s World Cup draw with Ecuador at the Maracana.

“What I want to say is I stayed with Arsenal with the same contract since 2008 and I never asked for more money.

“For people who think it’s for money, it’s not. I just wanted to change. I needed a boost in my career and I think it was about time.”

Sagna held several rounds of talks over a new deal with Arsenal and admitted he found it difficult to keep his mind clear amid constant speculation surrounding his future.

“It was not an easy time because we were still involved in the FA Cup and it was hard to stay focused,” he added.

“I stayed focused on my team because I have a lot of respect for Arsenal.

“I believe Arsenal are a great team. I believe we have great quality and [am happy that] we won a trophy finally. It’s not even about that because Arsenal have quality.

“It’s just that, personally, I wanted a boost. I needed to start from the bottom again.”

The France international, who is currently in Brazil for the World Cup, also says he is ready to fight with Pablo Zabaleta for a place in the City starting team.

Sagna added: “It is an exciting time for my career because I’m 31. I know they have a very good right-back in Zabaleta and I will have to fight to find some time on the pitch.

“But I think we have a good team with City and we can do great.”

Pjanic dismisses transfer talk: I want to stay at Roma

Despite signing a new contract last month, the 24-year-old remains one of the most coveted midfielders in Europe – but he says he’s going nowhere this summer


EXCLUSIVE
By Mark Doyle in Salvador

Miralem Pjanic has dismissed talk of a move away from Roma, insisting that he has “a great desire” to stay with the Serie A side.

The midfielder last month committed himself to the Giallorossi until 2018 yet he is still being linked with the likes of Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.

Pjanic reportedly penned a contract extension on the condition that Roma would not then try to cash in on their most valuable asset and he now fully expects to remain at Stadio Olimpico for the start of the new season.

“I’ve signed on for another four years,” the Bosnia-Herzegovina star told Goal after his country’s World Cup win over Iran in Salvador. “I have a great desire to return to Roma.

“The season starts soon and, with both the Champions League and the Scudetto [on offer this season], we’re aiming high.”

A 3-1 defeat of Iran at Arena Fonte Nova was not enough to see the Bosnians progress to the last 16, with their fate having already been sealed by defeats against Argentina and Nigeria, and the 24-year-old admitted that Safet Susic’s side were leaving Brazil with an undeniable sense of regret.

“We can be happy about this game but it’s a little bit of a strange feeling because we’re already going home, so we cannot be so satisfied about that,” Pjanic admitted after Bosnia ended up third in Group F, a point shy of a place in the knockout stage.

“But this game was important for us for our fans, for our supporters. This victory was for them.

“Our team could have made the next round because we have good players and we could have done more than we did in these three games.

“Before this game, we knew that we could not qualify, so it was difficult to find the motivation for this game but the team did very well [against Iran]. We were the better team.

“Unfortunately, against Nigeria [a 1-0 loss], we could have done much more. But we played well here [in Salvador]. We pressed right from the beginning and we didn’t give them much space.

“I think we could have even scored more but this final result was good. Now we have to prepare for our next competition, the Euros.”

Pjanic scored the second goal in Bosnia’s 3-1 victory over Iran, with Edin Dzeko and Avdija Vrsajevic also on target for the tournament debutants.

Pjanic dismissess transfer talk: I want to stay at Roma

Despite signing a new contract last month, the 24-year-old remains one of the most coveted midfielders in Europe – but he says he’s going nowhere this summer


EXCLUSIVE
By Mark Doyle in Salvador

Miralem Pjanic has dismissed talk of a move away from Roma, insisting that he has “a great desire” to stay with the Serie A side.

The midfielder last month committed himself to the Giallorossi until 2018 yet he is still being linked with the likes of Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.

Pjanic reportedly penned a contract extension on the condition that Roma would not then try to cash in on their most valuable asset and he now fully expects to remain at Stadio Olimpico for the start of the new season.

“I’ve signed on for another four years,” the Bosnia-Herzegovina star told Goal after his country’s World Cup win over Iran in Salvador. “I have a great desire to return to Roma.

“The season starts soon and, with both the Champions League and the Scudetto [on offer this season], we’re aiming high.”

A 3-1 defeat of Iran at Arena Fonte Nova was not enough to see the Bosnians progress to the last 16, with their fate having already been sealed by defeats against Argentina and Nigeria, and the 24-year-old admitted that Safet Susic’s side were leaving Brazil with an undeniable sense of regret.

“We can be happy about this game but it’s a little bit of a strange feeling because we’re already going home, so we cannot be so satisfied about that,” Pjanic admitted after Bosnia ended up third in Group F, a point shy of a place in the knockout stage.

“But this game was important for us for our fans, for our supporters. This victory was for them.

“Our team could have made the next round because we have good players and we could have done more than we did in these three games.

“Before this game, we knew that we could not qualify, so it was difficult to find the motivation for this game but the team did very well [against Iran]. We were the better team.

“Unfortunately, against Nigeria [a 1-0 loss], we could have done much more. But we played well here [in Salvador]. We pressed right from the beginning and we didn’t give them much space.

“I think we could have even scored more but this final result was good. Now we have to prepare for our next competition, the Euros.”

Pjanic scored the second goal in Bosnia’s 3-1 victory over Iran, with Edin Dzeko and Avdija Vrsajevic also on target for the tournament debutants.