With reports that Saul Niguez may leave Atletico Madrid this summer, one of those put forward as a potential replacement has been Yangel Herrera.
Manchester City could be willing to permanently part ways with the 23-year-old after previously sending him out loan, especially if they decide they need to raise funds to make moves 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? Sportsmail looks at the answers to that and much more…
Yangel Herrera signed for Manchester City four years ago but has not played once for them
Pep Guardiola may decide after loan spells 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 last four seasons. You would be forgiven for not realising that though, as the 23-year-old is yet to make a single appearance for the Premier League champions.
After he joined in 2017, he was immediately sent out on loan for two years to New York City – the MLS side owned by the City Football Group.
A six-month spell at Spanish side Huesca followed after that. Herrera has spent the last two seasons in La Liga with Granada, after the move was extended following an impressive first year with the club.
He has already made 23 appearances for Venezuela, and was ruled out of the rest of the Copa America due to suffering a minor fracture to his right tibia in a group match against Colombia.
Herrera signed for the English side in 2017 and was sent straight out on loan 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 one across midfield, if his performances for Granada are anything to go by.
While at times he put in box-to-box performances as part of a midfield three, Herrera was also trusted to play deeper in a double pivot in front of his defence for other matches.
But he is just as effective going forwards, and six of his La Liga starts last season came playing as an attacking midfielder behind the striker. With goals, assists and plenty of yellow cards, Herrera is certainly an all-action player.
Herrera is a box-to-box midfielder who has proven to be effective in a variety of systems
That added freedom he was given last season to get into the box is one the Venezuelan relished.
‘This season’s been that season to develop and really own that skill and get better and better,’ Herrera said last campaign.
‘Being a midfielder by trade, I always enjoy being able to get forward, but that skill in particular I have really developed and evolved this season due to the opportunity to express myself.’
WHO WANTS HIM?
According to Mundo Deportivo, Atletico Madrid certainly do.
Their 26-year-old midfield Niguez has been linked with a move to the Premier League this summer, with Liverpool and Manchester United possible destinations, as well as a potential swap deal with Antoine Griezmann that would see the Spaniard join Ronald Koeman’s side.
That would leave a big gap in the Atletico midfield, and after successful loan spells in Spain over the last two years, La Liga’s biggest sides are fully aware of Herrera’s quality.
Atletico Madrid could look to the Venezuelan as a replacement if Saul Niguez leaves the club
Should Niguez end up staying at Atletico, or Diego Simeone decide to look elsewhere for a replacement, there is also interest from Premier League sides.
Southampton are one of those teams, and their interest is long-standing. The Saints reportedly sent scouts to watch Herrera a number of times while he was on loan at Granada.
David Moyes and West Ham are also believed to be keeping tabs on Herrera and could make a move if City decide to sell this summer, particularly with Declan Rice’s future not entirely certain.
Regardless of what happens with Rice, the added fixture congestion facing the Hammers as a result of them qualifying for the Europa League means an additional midfield option may be a very welcome one.
West Ham are one English club interested, particularly with Declan Rice’s future uncertain
Herrera has been a crucial part of a Granada side that have exceeded expectations over the last two seasons.
He joined ahead of 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 to 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 another three in the competition as the Spanish side reached the quarter finals.
Herrera was an ever-present in the Granada side that reached the Europa League quarter finals
They ultimately lost to Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s side in the last eight but it was ultimately an impressive European campaign, and one in which no Granada player scored more goals than Herrera.
He was once again by far Granada’s most used midfielder in La Liga as they finished ninth, a slight drop off from the season before but still a strong performance from a side that was in the Segunda Division just a couple of seasons ago.
WHAT’S BEEN SAID?
Speaking earlier this season, Herrera was coy when talking about long-term future, but revealed his desire to play at the top of European game.
‘They [City] are always watching me, every game,’ he said in an interview with Venezuelan media.
The midfielder insisted earlier in the year he wasn’t focused on his Manchester City future
‘I focus on the day-to-day. It’s what has led me to where I am and that teams like that take me into account.
‘Now I don’t think about whether I’m going there or not. I try to do well in Granada and in the future we will 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 achieving it.’