While the popular theory going around as to why Manchester United weren’t able to complete their deal with Athletic Bilbao for Ander Herrera points the fingers at the English club, there are those that suggest it’s mostly about the Basque team simply making it close to impossible to sign some of their players.
According to Lartaun de Arizmendi, a journalist for Cadena COPE, all the fingers pointed at David Moyes and Ed Woodward, in charge of Manchester United and their transfer dealings, should be pointed elsewhere. Bilbao have proven time after time they make it close to impossible for teams to sign their best players, even if it means giving up on money they could really use. He explained on his blog that even though Herrera’s clause posed a problem, even by putting up the money United wouldn’t have made it to actually getting Herrera.
In the Bayern Munich case from last season, Athletic Bilbao realized that even if a player deposits a check on behalf of the club trying to purchase him, they still aren’t forced to sell the player. The club actually has to agree to accept the money to their bank account.
Bayern Munich didn’t do everything at the last moment like Manchester United have, and made a move that enabled them to complete the signing. They alerted the Financial Council in Bilbao about their €40 million offer being refused. The club owns quite a lot of money to the council, and would have been forced to pay back all the debts they owed the Financial Council if they continued to ignore Bayern’s approach.
Bilbao knew Manchester United didn’t have time to go down the same alley, so they were never worried about actually losing Herrera. The three lawyers some suggested were impostors (which makes no sense at all) were actually trying to help Manchester United and Herrera by convincing Bilbao to stop refusing taking the money. However, even if United knew about the Financial Council, they didn’t have enough time to work in that direction.
David Moyes and Ed Woodward messed up badly in this transfer window because they moved in the wrong directions for the wrong players for too long, and started making the right approaches way too late. But Bilbao were never going to make it easy on anyone trying to sign any of their players, and made it close to impossible for United to actually sign the midfielder.