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Ander Herrera was crowned Manchester United’s player of the season for 2016-17 on Thursday, beating fellow nominees Antonio Valencia and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the coveted Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award.
He succeeded team-mate and fellow Spaniard David De Gea, who has won the award at Old Trafford in each of the previous three seasons, per United:
Manchester United @ManUtd
Well done to @AnderHerrera – the 2017 #MUFCPOTY, presented by @adidasfootball. 👍 https://t.co/mFUKWXmpA9
5/18/2017, 9:35:05 PM
According to the Red Devils’ website, Herrera topped the closest-ever poll for the accolade, beating out right-back Valencia by just 242 votes, with top-scorer Ibrahimovic not much further behind.
The 27-year-old has made 31 Premier League appearances in 2016-17, netting one goal and providing six assists, while he has started eight of the 14 UEFA Europa League matches that have seen United advance to the final, per WhoScored.com.
Arguably the hard-working central midfielder’s best performance of the campaign came in United’s 2-0 defeat of Chelsea back in April during which he scored a goal and provided an assist, all while shackling Eden Hazard with an impressive man-marking job:
B/R Football @brfootball
And for his next trick…Ander Herrera will make Eden Hazard magically disappear #MUFC https://t.co/ZEUcsjIVDE
4/16/2017, 5:47:34 PM
He said upon receiving the award, per United’s website: “It’s very special for me to win this award because when you see the list of winners, you realise how important it is. And I stopped the record of David.
“I feel it [the fans’ affection] and I’m very thankful but I think a Manchester United player can never stop; we have to keep giving them the affection back because you can see we don’t always perform at our best, yet they are always behind us.“
It has not been United’s best season in 2016-17, and they will finish sixth in the Premier League no matter what happens in their final match of the term on Sunday against Crystal Palace.
However, there is a strong chance they could end the season having won two trophies, following their EFL Cup triumph in February.
Herrera will likely be in Jose Mourinho’s starting lineup for the Europa League final against Ajax in Stockholm, Sweden, on May 24, and could cap an excellent season—his third as a United player—with a match-winning performance.