Midfielder | New York City FC | Venezuela
It was all going so swimmingly for the emerging South American. It was all perhaps going too well.
After breaking through to prominence with Atletico Venezuela and making a name for himself as a midfield all-rounder – tenacious but blessed with timing in the tackle that can’t be taught while possessing a rampaging style going forward and let’s not forget too being good in the air – Herrera was snapped up by Manchester City in January 2017.
The English giants ignored overtures from Lyon and the opportunity to make a quick buck and instead immediately sent the La Guaira-born prospect on a two-year loan to MLS. Once at their affiliate club, New York City FC, he was placed under the tutorage of Patrick Vieira, a hero to Herrera and someone who knows a thing or two about commanding the vast swathes of turf between the boxes.
From the get-go the teen impressed, slotting in as one half of a double-6 alongside Alex Ring with Maxi Moralez play-making ahead of him. “He’s a tactically intelligent midfielder who is strong in the tackle and reads the game well,” Vieira said of him. “Yangel also has good passing range and spatial awareness, which is crucial for a player in his position”. Elsewhere he was described by a respected publication as ‘a buttress’.
In the summer of 2017 Herrera captained the Venezuelan U20 side to a World Cup final having earlier scored the decider in a last 16 clash with Japan. He has since accumulated eight full international caps.
Only then on May 25th of this year in Houston he didn’t emerge from a well-timed tackle. He stayed down. And not only was his season over but his time in America too.
2018 has been…
….positive largely by default. Herrera’s prolonged absence has only seen his reputation go from strength to strength because New York City FC’s form unquestionably spiralled following his ankle injury and furthermore it reflects well on the player that they struggled so much to adequately replace him. His is a skillset that balances controlled aggression with risk-management when foraging forward and the stats back up his usefulness: in the 26 matches he started for NYC they averaged 2.08 points per game. That contrasts greatly to the 1.34 they accrued in the 35 games he missed during his time in the US.
"I am ready for Europe. I feel good and I would really like to make the jump," the player said in a Venezuela television interview back in April and clearly New York was only a stepping stone. Now with his loan deal expired he has temporarily moved to Manchester, awaiting his next destination but England itself can be discounted due to work permit issues that still reportedly persist.
With his ability to influence proceedings centrally there will be no shortage of takers for this promising talent and now injury-free – Herrera returned to action earlier than expected and bolstered New York’s play-off attempt – the time has now come to prove his eminence on the pitch rather that it being missed when he’s not around.