True leaders on the football pitch are hard to come by. True leaders who can carry their team when times get tough and can motivate his teammates to find that extra 10% are a crucial part to every team. A leader isn't necessarily the best player on the pitch nor the most skilful, but he's the type of player who wears his heart on his sleeve and will give everything. Ander Herrera is that man for Manchester United.
Since his arrival at the club in 2014, the Spaniard has gone on to feature in nearly 100 games for the club, collecting FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Europa League medals along the way. During his three years at Old Trafford, Herrera has become somewhat of a cult hero amongst fans. The passions he displays both on and off the pitch shows that he truly cares about the club, and that's something fans can buy into.
During United's 0-0 draw against Liverpool at Anfield earlier in the season, Herrera was videoed giving Anthony Martial animated instructions, telling him to "stay open" and keep his position on the field. The 28-year-old was also spotted yelling at his teammates from the sidelines while he warmed up during their home match against Crystal Palace, making sure they knew who they were marking.
His displays of passion and emotion show that even when he isn't involved on the pitch, he makes sure that he is influencing the game in his side's favour off it. The Spaniard is the definition of a team player - always thinking of his teammates and the result for his side over personal praise or achievements.
In United's Europa League final victory over Ajax, Herrera spotted Henrik Mkhitaryan moving back to defend should the Dutch side counter from their corner. Herrera, knowing his teammate was on a yellow card and risked a possible red, told the Armenian to push into the box to save himself from being given his marching orders - 10 seconds later, Mkhitaryan scored.
The arrival of Nemanja Matic from Chelsea in the summer has knocked Herrera out of the starting lineup, with the former Bilbao man making only five starts in the Premier League thus far. Yes, Herrera might not be playing as much, so it is understandable should he want to move in search of more playing time - but for United to not offer such an influential player a new deal knowing his current one expires next summer is ridiculous.
United would be losing a leader and a huge influence in the dressing room. Herrera loves Manchester United and Manchester United fans love Herrera. Last season he won the club's Player of the Year award for his part in helping the club qualify for the Champions League through their Europa League win, and that should say it all.
United will see this is an opportunity to knock some money off a deal for Antoine Greizmann, which would obviously be a great signing for the club. But to lose a player who loves the club as much as Herrera does would be a blow to the unity in Mourinho's dressing room, and possibly on the pitch.