Erneste Valverde admits Bilbao have struggled to replace Ander Herrera

by Sam Peoples

Athletic Bilbao boss Erneste Valverde has conceded the club is still struggling to replace Ander Herrera who joined Manchester United this summer.

Valverde revealed his concerns in the wake of the club’s scoreless home Champions League clash with Shakhtar Donestk where the Basque outfit lacked penetration and a killer pass in the final third of the pitch.

Due to club policy, all of Bilbao’s players have roots in the Basque region which makes it far more difficult to replace departing players and that has proved to be the case with Herrera.

“I have different possibilities for the position occupied by Herrera,” Valverde said this week. “I’m doing tests.”

The comments come in the wake of Herrera’s first full 90 minutes for Manchester United on Sunday, where he starred in a comprehensive 4-0 victory over QPR. The 25-year-old grabbed his first goal and was also heavily involved in the build-up to Wayne Rooney’s third goal.

Herrera’s style of play, defined by a high-level of pressing and his superb awareness of timing, were qualities absent from Los Leones play against Donestk, where they controlled much of the possession yet rarely threatened to score.

Herrera has been a huge hit for United in his short time at the club and will become a central part of United’s team this season.

Bilbao does have midfielders ready to step into Herrera’s shoes but none are able to offer as complete a package as Herrera and it is a real testament to his ability that Bilbao have struggled to replace him.

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