Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone won’t guarantee Mexico international Hector Herrera will be a starter this season, but has been impressed at how he has adapted to the club so far.
Herrera, 29, signed for Atleti earlier this month on a free transfer after his contract with Porto had run down and the former Pachuca midfielder missed the Gold Cup in order to focus on preseason at his new club.
“Hector is a guy that has very clear qualities, he’s very good arriving into the area, he covers a lot of ground in midfield, he has a good shot, scores goals and, above all, has experience,” said Simeone in an interview with TUDN.
“He’s started well with the group, he’s settled quickly and that’s really useful for getting used to the team and the people,” he continued.
But the battle will be fierce with Thomas Partey, Marcos Llorente, Koke and Saul all competing with Herrera for the start.
“He can play well in in either [4-4-2 or 4-3-3-] formation,” Simeone told ESPN. “He has played that in his old team with either formation. There is the possibility because of his liberty to attack in 4-3-3 that he enjoys that better, I didn’t ask him. But he seems to fit into our system, always with the possibility to break through going forward.
“His ability and experience to get to area will serve him well. There is a good competition in the midfield [Thomas, Llorente Saul, Koke]. It will require a lot of attention and to read with the team needs. The faster he understands that the better.
“Two or three will play and that will generate big competition moving forward,” said Simeone.
Herrera hasn’t started a game yet for Atleti in the preseason, but has captured the attention of fellow midfielder Koke.
“He’s got a very Atletico style,” Koke told ESPN. “Whenever I’ve seen him play in Porto or in the national team you see that he’s a guy with a lot of intensity, very hard-working, he’s got quality. He’s the type of player that is well-liked with Atletico Madrid.”
Herrera is line for minutes when the Spanish club take on MLS All-Stars in Orlando on Wednesday.
MLS All-Stars are Atleti’s final match of their U.S. preseason tour. The Spanish side are coming off a shock 7-3 win over city rivals Real Madrid last week at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.