Mexico midfielder Hector Herrera is in the form of his life.
At least that is what he thinks, saying as much after El Tri confirmed their round of 16 place with a win over Croatia on Monday.
“I’m in my best moment," the 24-year-old said after the game. "I’m playing a World Cup, I think I’m doing well and I hope to continue with this good rhythm."
The 2012 Olympic gold medal winner is, with Guillermo Ochoa, a candidate for Mexico’s best player at the World Cup so far. He even drew plaudits from former England defender Rio Ferdinand, who suggested that if he were a manager requiring a reasonably priced midfielder, the Baja California native would be at the top of the list.
If I'm a manager right now&needed a midfielder who isn't going to cost a bomb Mexico's Herrera would be top of the shopping list! Impressive— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) June 23, 2014
Herrera, however, has said his mind is fixed on club side Porto and on the World Cup, and that he isn’t considering a move at the moment.
“I don’t know if I am gold (to Porto). I think I’ve still got a way to go and I’m working for that,” he said. “The results are being seen and I am working not just to be in the 11, but also (to be) among the best in the world.”
The former Pachuca midfielder stressed that the atmosphere and union in Mexico’s squad has been key to the team’s success so far at Brazil 2014, but there is little doubt Herrera has stood out as an individual.
Against Croatia, he struck a left-footed shot from 25 yards that crashed against the angle of the post and crossbar in the first half. Three minutes later, he carved open the Croatia defense with a sublime pass from which Oribe Peralta really should’ve scored.
But scoring and assists aren’t the bread and butter of Herrera’s game. His reading of the match and picking the right passes to move his team forward, linking the different lines, is vital.
He also has a huge engine. Against Croatia, Herrera covered 12,083 meters (more than any other player of the field by some distance). It wasn’t pointless running around, either. He hassled, harried and harassed Croatia midfielders Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic when they had the ball, playing a vital role in them not having a major impact on the game.
Watch him in interviews or in mixed zones and Herrera comes across as relaxed, down to earth and with an almost perma-smile expression on his face. The biggest thing that radiates from him is that he is at home on the field, doing his thing, like it is the most natural place in the world for him.
It is a combination that will have bigger clubs than Porto keeping a close eye on his progress. This summer is likely too early for Herrera to make the jump, considering that he’s only started 14 matches so far for Porto in the Primeira Liga. Further down the line, though, Herrera has stated on more than one occasion that it is his goal to move on from Porto to one of Europe’s biggest leagues.
He’s certainly on course.Enjoy this Tabasco Michelada recipe during Mexico vs.Netherlands