Football: Bilbao's Herrera flattered by Man Utd bid

MADRID (AFP) - Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera said on Wednesday he was honoured by Manchester United's failed bid to sign him but denied reports he had entered into transfer negotiations without his club's knowledge.

"It is totally false that they came to an agreement with me," he told a news conference.

The 24-year-old player said Old Trafford bosses knew they would have to pay a 36-million-euro (S$60.6 million) buy-out clause if they wanted to negotiate his departure from Bilbao.

"Without that, there was no chance of luring me into a deal," Herrera said.

Nevertheless, he said: "That United make a bid for you is flattering, you are grateful because it is one of the greatest clubs in the world." Herrera denied knowing the origin of transfer rumours that were sparked off by three lawyers from the Bilbao legal firm Laffer Abogados being spotted in the offices of the Spanish football league.

The lawyers' presence set off speculation that they were negotiating Herrera's transfer to Manchester.

In interviews with the Spanish sporting press, the lawyers said they were discussing technical matters with the league. They denied representing Herrera or Bilbao but declined to say whether they were acting for United.

"You will have to ask them (Manchester) whether they were lawyers for United or not. They were not representing me in any case. I don't even know who they are," Herrera said.

Spain's sporting press speculated that the three lawyers may have been acting for Manchester to give the impression that a Herrera deal was imminent, thus pressuring Everton into reaching an agreement over the sale of Belgian Marouane Fellaini to United.

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