Ander Herrera has won the hearts of Manchester United fans throughout his time at Old Trafford but has sometimes struggled to nail down a place in the starting team.
But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer immediately placed him at the heart of his United midfield, offering the balance between Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic.
He has taken on the role with his characteristic gusto, and the numbers bear out his growing influence on Solskjaer’s United side.
Herrera makes on average more interceptions per match than any other midfielder in the Premier League (Sky Sports), which bears out his role as a pro-active ball-winner.
Matic generally sits in as a more static shield for the defence, while Pogba’s creative freedom and languid style means he can be slow to get back – so Herrera’s job is to shuttle up and down, putting out fires.
He has covered the most ground of any player in his last two Premier League appearances (Sky Sports) and he is more than willing to do his fair share of dirty work – and some of Pogba’s too.
Solskjaer took a slight liberty by rotating his squad against Burnley in United’s last home game – dropping Herrera out in place of Andreas Pereira – and it may be no coincidence that was the only game of the Norwegian’s reign that United have failed to win.
Herrera is playing as well as at any point since arriving at United for a reported (Guardian) £29m back in 2014 and having been shunted around various roles under Jose Mourinho, he appears to have carved out a niche.
But energy is so important to this new-look United side and without Herrera in the engine room, it is sorely lacking in midfield.
Herrera – perhaps more than any other Red – has helped Pogba flourish by offering him a defensive shield, as well as forming part of a strong midfield block which has created stability in front of a defence which has creaked at times this season.
That makes him one of the most vital and effective players in this current United side.