Ander Herrera has announced he will leave Manchester United on July 1.
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The Spanish midfielder, 29, has come to the end of his contract at Old Trafford and revealed he is moving on in a classy video posted on United’s Twitter page. It has yet to be announced, but it is believed Herrera will sign for French giants Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.
Herrera arrived from Athletic Bilbao in 2014 for $37 million (he spoke to us from United’s training camp in LA that summer) and became the first signing of the Louis Van Gaal era.
He won the FA Cup, Europa League and League Cup during his five seasons at Old Trafford and became a fans favorite for his tough tackling and quality on the ball. He won the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award for the 2016-17 season, which is voted for by United’s fans.
The Spanish international isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, with plenty of late challenges and a focus on breaking up the play of opponents rather than setting up fluid moves for United. However, the fans warmed to his commitment to the cause and you always feel like he gives 100 percent every single time he’s on the pitch.
During the first few months of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s reign he played a key role alongside Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba in central midfield, but in recent weeks Herrera has been left out due to injury and having others picked ahead of him.
Herrera will be the first of many established names to leave Old Trafford this summer as a huge rebuild continues. He will also be the most beloved player to leave.
Manchester City can put Leicester City deep in its rearview mirror when the two sides meet at the King Power Stadium on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).
Leicester opens the day four points back of the second-place visitors. The Foxes also saw Chelsea move four points back with a win over Spurs.
[ STREAM: Leicester City v. Man City ]
Aymeric Laporte again pairs with Fernandinho in Man City’s back line, keeping John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi on the bench.
Harvey Barnes and Ayoze Perez start on the bench for Brendan Rodgers‘ Foxes.
Lionel Messi scored a first half hat trick for Barcelona against Eibar on Saturday.
Messi, 33, is warming up quite well for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg as he tore Eibar’s defense to shreds to put them 3-0 up at the break.
In a week where Messi and Barcelona have been in the news amid an emergency signing of Martin Braithwaite, a social media spying scandal and plenty of criticism of sporting director Eric Abidal, the Argentine ace got back to doing what he does best.
Barcelona sat in second place in the La Liga table heading into this weekend, one point behind Real Madrid.
OIivier Giroud knows he’s given Frank Lampard food for thought as Chelsea improved its top four stock with a 2-1 defeat of Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Giroud scored the first goal in making just his third Premier League start and eighth league appearance under Lampard, and now has two goals in 375 minutes this season. The other came against Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup.
[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]
The Frenchman now has 79 Premier League goals, and the ex-Arsenal man will be doubly thrilled to that four of them have now come against Spurs.
“I was lucky the ball came back after hitting the post and I tried to finish,” Giroud said, via the BBC. “It was a good feeling for me, a good moment and I’m so happy for the team to win today. It’s been three months I didn’t start, it’s been a special day for me and all of us.”
[ MORE: Mourinho reacts ]
Giroud said that this was bigger for Chelsea than it was for him, though.
“It was a very important game for us today. I want to talk about the team spirit. We’ve shown great character today. We knew it was maybe a kind of turning point. We lost a bit of confidence. It was nice to bounce back and get this win, a hard win against a rival, so I feel relieved today.
“Tottenham is obviously a rival for the Champions League race, so we are pleased to put them four points behind us. This is the start of a good run, I hope, now we need to focus on the Champions League. This game would be nice for the confidence and for the changing room.”
Chelsea meets Bayern Munich on Tuesday at Stamford Bridge before a trip to Bournemouth on Feb. 29. The breathing room on fifth place is welcome.
Tottenham Hotspur boss Jose Mourinho says he can have no complaints with his shorthanded men following a 2-1 loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho pointed to the absence of strikers Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane as well as a Champions League match in midweek.
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“Look at Chelsea they played a World Cup-winning striker up front, England’s second striker on the bench, and Belgium’s second striker in the stands,” he said, via Football.London. “We had no strikers on the pitch, no strikers on the bench and two in the hospital.”
Chelsea were the much better side on the day, with Olivier Giroud making a statement to Frank Lampard about his ability as a center forward.
And Mourinho felt sufficiently shorthanded on the day, especially given the exhausting 1-0 loss to RB Leipzig at midweek.
“Lucas, Lo Celso, Bergwijn,” he said. “These boys that are playing every minute and trying to do miracles in positions that are not their positions. I cannot complain.”
Mourinho also defended keeping Dele Alli on the bench for the first time in his tenure as Spurs boss.
“We had strange game plans but we needed to have them. Like Lamela who played well, people think I’m stupid that I don’t play him, but he’s constantly communicating with me in the warm-up, can I play or not. He was telling me his feelings.”
Spurs will finish the weekend four points back of the top four and as many as two back of fifth. They have eight days until another big match, March 1 versus Wolves.