Ander Herrera

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Ander Herrera says football ‘not most important’ at Man United

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Former Manchester United fan favorite Ander Herrera has taken aim at his old club, looking to explain one of the reasons that led him away from Old Trafford this past summer.

Now with PSG, the Spaniard says he turned down a new contract at Manchester United because he felt more like a business asset than a football player.

“I was very happy at that incredible club,” the 30-year-old said to French publication So Foot. “I am very grateful to the supporters. Frankly, I was immensely happy there. However, at the club, there were times when I felt that football was not considered the most important thing.”

When the publication pressed him on what was the most important thing at Manchester United, he refused to answer, but as the interviewer asked, “business?” Herrera seemed to respond in the affirmative.

“That does not come out of my mouth,” Herrera responded to the suggestion. “I don’t know, but football was not the most important thing in Manchester. I do not want to compare, all I know is that here, I feel like I’m breathing football on all sides. And I like it.”

He doubled down on that concept when talking about his new club PSG, saying, “I cannot talk about what was happening in previous seasons as I was not here. However, since I have been here, what I see is that I am in a club that thinks only and exclusively about football.”

The comments seem to echo what Herrera said over the summer when leaving Manchester United, suggesting that he did not feel fully welcome in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s project ahead. “There were differences regarding the project and my importance within it,” Herrera told Marca after joining PSG.

At Manchester United, Herrera was well-liked by fans for not only his tenacious play on the field both progressing forward and tracking back, but also his constant media availability and ability to answer the hard questions, always taking a team-first attitude. Since moving to the French top flight, Herrera has started five Ligue 1 matches, overcoming a calf injury that sidelined him for the first month of the season.

High-profile match-fixing trial underway in Spain

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MADRID (AP) Spain’s most high-profile match-fixing soccer trial got underway Tuesday with more than 30 players appearing before a judge.

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Players, coaches and team officials were in court in Valencia to defend themselves in the case involving a top-tier Spanish league game between Levante and Zaragoza at the end of the 2010-11 season.

More than 40 people have been accused, including former Mexico coach Javier Aguirre, who managed Zaragoza at the time.

They potentially face two years in prison and a six-year soccer ban if found guilty.

Among the players accused are Ander Herrera, now with Paris Saint-Germain; former Leicester midfielder Vicente Iborra; former Atletico Madrid captain Gabi Fernandez; River Plate midfielder Leonardo Ponzio; Serbian defender Ivan Obradovic; Lazio forward Felipe Caicedo; and Uruguay striker Cristhian Stuani.

Some of the players have asked not to be in court for the entire duration of the trial, which is expected to last until the end of September.

Lawyers for Zaragoza and some players called for a mistrial on Tuesday because current Spanish league president Javier Tebas was a lawyer to one of the Zaragoza players at the time.

They claimed Tebas broke lawyer-client privilege because it was the league that later made the accusation that led to the trial.

[ EURO 2020 qualifying preview: Germany-Netherlands showdown on deck ]

Prosecutors cited evidence that Zaragoza paid around $1 million to Levante’s players to lose a match to Zaragoza.

Zaragoza’s 2-1 victory in the final round of the season allowed the team to avoid relegation. Levante was already safe.

Prosecutors said the money allegedly given to Levante players was divided among the squad. Prosecutors contend that players in both teams were aware of the match-fixing.

Prosecutors said they found evidence the money was transferred to Levante players after analyzing tax reports and banking transactions at the time. Ahead of the trial, all the defendants denied any wrongdoing.

A lower court had shelved the case but it was reopened last year after an appeal by prosecutors in Valencia, where Levante is based and where the match was played.

Even if found guilty, it’s unlikely that those being accused would face actual prison time because sentences of two years or less for first-time offenders are often suspended in Spain.

Zaragoza returned to the second division in 2013-14. Levante is currently in Spain’s top tier.

PSG formally adds long-time Manchester United mid Herrera

Ander Herrera
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One of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s top performers at Manchester United has found his way to Paris.

Ander Herrera, 29, is officially a Paris Saint-Germain player after five years at Old Trafford, the Ligue 1 monsters announced on Thursday.

[ MORE: Jagielka staying in PL ]

The center midfielder was trumped only by Paul Pogba last season, according to advanced stats site

Herrera played 189 times for United, scoring 20 times with 27 assists. The numbers are about on par with what he did at Athletic Bilbao prior to the Manchester transfer.

From PSG’s English site:

“Paris Saint-Germain is the greatest club in France. It keeps on improving and competes to win every possible title,” said Ander Herrera on signing his contract. “I was looking forward to coming to Paris and to wearing those colors. I hope to continue to make history with the club! Joining this club is an amazing feeling. I also love the city. Paris is the most beautiful city in the world. I promise three things: work, professionalism and passion. I also promise to improve my French because I think that the language is very important for the team’s communication.”

PSG could look mighty different next year, with Neymar and Philippe Countinho potentially trading places in Barcelona and Paris. Herrera is one of the unsung heroes of the past few bumpy season at Old Trafford and can be expected to put in a shift consistent shift.

Herrera, Valencia, Welbeck all released, Mata offered extension

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With the end of the season comes the expiration of contracts, and as Premier League teams begin the offseason and the end of June nears, more and more clubs are working to pin down their rosters and make room for imminent transfer arrivals.

Manchester United announced the release of 15 players on Friday, including captain Antonio Valencia and midfielder Ander Herrera, while Arsenal confirmed the departure of striker Danny Welbeck.

The Red Devils have cleaned house, although most of the departures are youth players who never made an impact on the first team squad. The most notable names are Valencia and Herrera, with the former ending a 10-year career at Old Trafford that saw the Ecuadorian international rack up 339 appearances and score 25 goals while assisting 62 more. Valencia hoisted two Premier League championship trophies and won domestic cup competitions three times, also winning the Europa League once.

At 33 years old, Valencia made just six Premier League appearances for the club this past season, and his time at Old Trafford was clearly coming to an end. It will be interesting to see where Valencia lands should he decide to continue playing.

Herrera, meanwhile, is leaving Manchester United still in the prime of his career. At 29 years old, Herrera made 28 appearances last season and was an integral part of the Red Devils midfield. Still, with his contract expiring and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer leaving Herrera out of the squad a number of times down the stretch, the Red Devils decided not to extend the Spaniard and he moves on from the club after five years at Old Trafford.

Juan Mata was not on the released list despite his contract ending this summer, instead appearing on the retained list, and reports in England indicate that he has been offered a new contract which the club is hopeful he will sign. At 31 years old, Mata has been with the Red Devils since joining from Chelsea in 2014, and while he was not a regular starter for the club this season, he is still an important squad player racking up over 1,700 minutes across all competitions.

Welbeck sees a five-year Arsenal career come to a close as he departs the Emirates on the expiration of his contract. The 28-year-old England international made 126 appearances for the Gunners but was hampered by consistent injury problems, with his knee, ankle, hip, and groin all troubling him at some stage or another. He began this season as a consistent option off the bench for Unai Emery but suffered a broken ankle in early November and never returned to action. Still in the prime of his career, Welbeck could be an important free transfer for a club that is willing to take the risk brought on by his injury history, and if he can find some luck and stay healthy, he could still have an impact wherever he should land.

Ander Herrera to leave Man United

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Ander Herrera has announced he will leave Manchester United on July 1.

[ MORE: Phelan confirmed as assistant ]

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.