As the January transfer window inches closer, countless rumors are trickling out from various media outlets. According to Paris United, Paris Saint-Germain is still adamant in acquiring two midfielders next month. With the pending departure of Adrien Rabiot, PSG needs to bring in a replacement along with another player to fill their glaring hole at the defensive midfield position. One potential replacement for Rabiot is FC Porto’s Héctor Herrera.
🔴🔵 Ideally, #PSG would like to land 2 players in the midfield area during the coming transfer window, while letting go of Rabiot and Diarra. That is also why the club is keeping an eye on different profiles such as #Ramsey and H. #Herrera whose contracts expire in 6 months.
— Paris United 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@ParisUnitedEN) December 26, 2018
Herrera has spent the last six seasons with the Primeira Liga side primarily playing as a central midfielder. He also has spent time in the defensive and attacking midfield roles. Make no mistake about it though, if the Mexico international is brought in by Thomas Tuchel and the PSG hierarchy, it will be to fill the role Rabiot leaves behind. Before spotlighting Herrera’s numbers and his strengths, let’s dive into some other aspects of his game.
In Herrera, the 28-year-old is currently Porto’s captain and has served as the captain for his national team as well, so leadership clearly isn’t an issue with him. With Gianluigi Buffon in the squad, you wouldn’t think PSG need experience and leadership, but given their shortcomings in the UEFA Champions League in recent years, they should look to add as much as possible.
What Herrera Brings to the Table
While he’s not as decorated as Buffon, Herrera brings the leadership mentality that Rabiot doesn’t possess and likely never will. One of the clubs significant weaknesses over the last three seasons has been their mental mistakes. The squad’s mental strength and composure were tested against Liverpool FC and Red Star Belgrade in the group stage of the Champions League and while they won both pivotal games, they’ll need leaders to propel them past Europe’s best in the knockout stage.
When you look at Herrera’s numbers (via WhoScored), it’s easy to see that the Mexican’s strength is his passing. Through 14 Primeira Liga appearances, Herrera is averaging 43.4 accurate short-passes (AccSP) per 90, which leads the club for players with 10 or more appearances. Also, Herrera’s Accurate Long-Balls (AccLB) is a significant strength that could help PSG jump-start their offensive attack. Averaging 3.8 AccLB per 90, only two other positional players possess a higher accuracy on the squad.
Another aspect of Herrera’s game that could benefit PSG is his willingness to help on defense. Even though he doesn’t play the defensive midfielder role for his current team, his duties on defense don’t go away. Herrera leads Porto’s squad in total attempted tackles per 90 with 3.4, and he wins 2.8 of his tackles. As a seasoned veteran, Herrera knows when and where to go for the ball since his dribbled past number sits at 0.6 per 90. Perhaps he could teach Marco Verratti a thing or two?
Combining his numbers and leadership qualities, Herrera is the type of player that will look to win every duel and not give up on a play. In American sports, we call this a blue-collar type of player. This means they might not have a flare to their game like Neymar, but they do the small things and give maximum effort to make a big impact. Speaking of effort, below is Herrera’s heat map via SofaScore and it shows how much ground he covers in the midfield for Porto.
The Porto Connection and Cost
From 2005 to 2016, Antero Henrique was the Director of Football for Porto. This means that PSG’s current sporting director was directly involved in bringing Herrera to Portugal. There’s a familiarity between the two so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he wanted to bring the player to the French capital.
In his two seasons with PSG, Henrique has yet to bring a player that he oversaw at his former club. Over the summer, Henrique did try to get approval from club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi to bring in André Villas-Boas as manager before the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim settled on Tuchel. Nonetheless, if the Paris United report is accurate, expect Henrique to vouch for Herrera in the decision process during the January window.
Now, the cost. With Financial Fair Play still an issue, PSG needs to be careful in how much they spend. When it comes to Herrera, he most definitely fits into their budget. Transfermrkt values him at €20 million, which is what PSG can pay as they look for bargains and loans in the market to help strengthen their midfield.
Two hurdles that could prevent a deal from happening is the fact that Porto remains in the Champions League with a winnable tie against AS Roma. Also, they are fending off two clubs in their domestic league for the title. With Herrera’s contract expiring in June, the club risk losing him for nothing, so they have to weigh their options. Regardless, PSG will continue to monitor the situation as they look at Herrara as a potential answer to their midfield woes.
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