With reports that Saul Niguez could leave Atletico Madrid this summer, Yangel Herrera is among those put forward as a possible replacement.
Manchester City could be willing to part ways with the 23-year-old having previously given him a loan, especially if they decide to raise money to take steps for Harry Kane and Jack Grealish.
But who is the relatively forgotten Herrera? Why do Atletico see him as a target? And what has he said about his long-term future? Sports post looks at the answers to that and much more…
Yangel Herrera signed for Manchester City four years ago, but never played for them once
Pep Guardiola may decide after rental periods in Spain that now is the time to sell permanently
WHO IS YANGEL HERRERA?
Born in Venezuela, Herrera has actually been a Manchester City for the past four seasons. You’d be forgiven for not realizing that, as the 23-year-old has yet to face the Premier League champions once.
After he joined in 2017, he was immediately loaned to New York City – the MLS side owned by the City Football Group – for two years.
This was followed by a six-month period on Spanish side Huesca. Herrera spent the last two seasons in La Liga with Granada, after the move was extended after an impressive first year at the club.
He has already played 23 games for Venezuela and was banned from the rest of the Copa America due to a minor fracture to his right tibia in a group match against Colombia.
Herrera signed for the England side in 2017 and was immediately loaned to New York City
However, that injury is unlikely to prevent him from making a summer move should City decide to sell him.
WHAT TYPE OF PLAYER IS HE?
A very versatile midfield player, if his performances for Granada prove anything.
While he sometimes put in box-to-box performances as part of a midfield three, Herrera was also trusted to play deeper into a double axis for his defense for other matches.
But he is just as effective as he goes forward, and six of his La Liga starts last season came as attacking midfielders behind the striker. With goals, assists and plenty of yellow cards, Herrera is definitely an all-action player.
Herrera is a box-to-box midfielder who has proven to be effective in a variety of systems
That extra freedom he was given last season to get into the penalty area is one the Venezuelan has enjoyed.
“This season was that season to develop that skill and really own it and get better and better,” Herrera said during the latest campaign.
“As a midfielder by profession I always like to move forward, but most of all that skill I really developed and evolved this season through the opportunity to express myself.”
WHO WANT HIM?
According to Sports world, Atletico Madrid certainly do.
Their 26-year-old midfielder Niguez has been linked this summer with a move to the Premier League, with Liverpool and Manchester United possible destinations, as well as a possible swap deal with Antoine Griezmann, which would see the Spaniard join Ronald Koeman.
That would leave a big gap in Atletico’s midfield, and after successful loan spells in Spain over the past two years, La Liga’s biggest teams are fully aware of Herrera’s quality.
Atlético Madrid could look to the Venezuelan as a replacement if Saul Niguez leaves the club
Should Niguez eventually stay with Atletico, or Diego Simeone decides to look elsewhere for a replacement, there is also interest from the Premier League.
Southampton is one of those teams and their interest has been there for a long time. The Saints reportedly sent scouts a number of times to watch Herrera while he was on loan to Granada.
David Moyes and West Ham would also keep an eye on Herrera and could make a move if City decide to sell this summer, especially with Declan Rice’s future not quite certain.
Whatever happens to Rice, the additional congestion the Hammers will face as a result of their Europa League qualification means an additional midfield option could be a very welcome one.
West Ham are an English club interested, especially with Declan Rice’s future uncertain
Herrera has been a crucial part of a Granada squad that has exceeded expectations over the past two seasons.
He joined for the 2019-20 season, Granada’s first back in La Liga after promotion the previous season. Herrera made more appearances than any other midfielder as he helped the season finish seventh and earn a place in Europe for the first time in their history.
The Venezuelan scored twice in the Europa League qualifying rounds as Granada qualified for the group stage, before scoring a further three in the competition as the Spanish side reached the quarter-finals.
Herrera was ever-present in the Granada side that reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League
They eventually lost to Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s side in the last eight, but it was an impressive European campaign in the end, and one in which no player from Granada scored more goals than Herrera.
He was again by far Granada’s most used midfielder in La Liga when they finished ninth, a slight drop from the previous season but still a strong performance from a side that played in the Segunda Division a few seasons ago.
WHAT HAS BEEN SAID?
Speaking earlier this season, Herrera was reluctant to talk about the long-term future, but revealed his desire to play at the top of the European game.
‘She [City] always watch me, every game,” he said in an interview with Venezuelan media.
The midfielder insisted earlier this year that he was not focused on his future at Manchester City
‘I focus on the day-to-day. That has brought me to where I am now and that such teams take me into account.
“Now I don’t think about whether I’m going there or not. I’m trying to do well in Granada and in the future we’ll see if I can be there. I work for [playing for a top European club]. I think it’s my goal.
“My dream was to play for the national team and reach an elite club in Europe. I try to evolve and grow. I can be very close to it.’