Ander Herrera 22 Midfielder Athletic Bilbao
Sides from the Basque region of Spain are noted for their unparalleled harvesting of homegrown talent, but in Ander Herrera, Athletic Bilbao let one slip through the net, at least temporarily. Although he returned to his hometown club this summer, Ander Herrera made his name at Real Zaragoza, 300 kilometres to the south-east. As places to learn your trade go, it was certainly interesting. Despite his tender age, Ander played a pivotal role in Zaragoza’s eventual survival under Javier Aguirre, and caught the eye with his quiet determination and occasional creative flourish.
Herrera also enjoyed a good summer in Spanish colours, scoring twice at the Under-21 European Championships, including the opener where he ghosted in to take advantage of some slack marking from Switzerland.
While all the signs have been positive up to now, the presence of Marcelo Bielsa in the Athletic dugout could yet throw a spanner into the works. The brilliant but erratic Argentine has handed Herrera just four starts this season, and with Athletic’s upturn in form coinciding with his absence, the coming months could test his undoubted mental toughness.
“At Real Zaragoza he was schooled, now at Athletic it’s time to graduate. If all goes well, he can be the Andrés Iniesta to Javi Martínez’s Xavi. Bielsa’s one for intensity but amongst the chaos Ander’s composure will provide a much welcome calm.” – David Cartlidge (Spanish Football.info)
C Stay strong, you'll be fine.