United were unwilling to meet Herrera’s €36m (£30.5m) release clause a year ago, but with that clause rising to €42m (£33.5m ) on July 1, United decided to pull the trigger and get the deal done.
Herrera, who helped Athletic qualify for the Champions League last season, has agreed a four-year deal worth just over £90,000-a-week with United.
For those naysayers who were saying that not being able to offer Champions League next season will make it difficult for United to attract top players, the signing of Herrera is a sign of the drawing power of the club and Louis van Gaal.
You have Herrera, a Basque playing for a Basque club, who helped them qualify for the Champions League next season in a brand-new stadium, yet he made the decision to join United at a time when they won’t be playing European football.
So how will Herrera fit into the plans for LVG has for United next season? Herrera can either play as a central midfield player or as a number ten. For Bilbao last season, he mainly played as a number ten, in an attacking midfield role behind a lone frontman.
The Euro U21 winner is still learning to play central midfield, so he is not at the level of a Cesc Fabregas or Toni Kroos, two players United were linked with.
But he has a lot of upside, and is an upgrade over what United currently have in central midfield. Last season he scored more goals, created more chances and made more tackles than Fletcher, Carrick, Fellaini and Cleverley combined.
Because he was not in Spain’s World Cup squad, Herrera will be expected to meet up with his new Manchester United teammates when they begin training soon, and his first appearance should be against the LA Galaxy in about a months time.