Former Manchester United hero Ander Herrera insists the Premier League giants need to prioritise ‘balance’ when asked about the prospect of Erik ten Hag signing both James Maddison and Declan Rice.

Herrera, during an up-and-down Red Devils career in which he enjoyed/endured spells under Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, saw the gap between United and arch rivals City become a veritable chasm.

While those from down the road constructed a squad boasting at least two high-quality options for every position, Manchester United splurged millions upon millions without any semblance of a clear, coherent transfer strategy.

Cardiff City v Manchester United - Premier League
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Manchester United making steps in the right direction

“(If I ever become a coach or sporting director) you can make sure that I will always start from the bottom of the building, from the first step, because you need the basis to create something important,” Herrera tells the Man United Scandinavian supporter’s club.

“We can see Manchester City. It’s painful for us. Very, very painful. But they started from the back.

“You remember when they signed Kyle Walker, when they signed Vincent Kompany, Nicolas Otamendi, Fernandinho. They are not going to make you win trophies, but without them you are not going to win, that’s for sure.”

Herrera, at least, believes his old employers are heading in the right direction, hailing the additions of Casemiro, Tyrell Malacia and Lisandro Martinez during Ten Hag’s successful first season in the Old Trafford dugout.

Erik ten Hag’s English revolution?

Leicester City’s James Maddison and West Ham captain Declan Rice are among those who have been mentioned as potential reinforcements for this window. The Telegraph linked Maddison to United and The Mail linked Rice.

And Herrera, when asked about both Maddison and Rice, insists that Manchester United should only look to bring in the England internationals if they are capable of adding ‘balance’ to Ten Hag’s squad. 

“If I was the sporting director of the club I would try to have two players per position,” the Spaniard adds.

“(You have to) try to make a team where the injuries or changes or bad moments of the players doesn’t affect the team. I would try to sign players that give you that balance to the team.

“For example, I remember a season where we had Radamel Falcao, Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney. We had so many attacking players and then, in the midfield, you had to put Wayne Rooney because we did not have enough players.

“I would try to make that balance. And then, with that solidity, you can make the stars shine. That’s my philosophy.”

Maddison, relegated with Leicester despite a fine individual campaign, would give Ten Hag a high-quality back-up for Bruno Fernandes in the playmaker role. As for Rice, a player as flexible, multi-faceted and intelligent as him could fill in expertly in a number of different midfield roles.

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