Ander Herrera
Ander HerreraReuters

Liverpool are preparing a bid to sign up long-term Manchester United target Ander Herrera in the summer, according to Fichajes.

The Athletic Bilbao midfielder was strongly linked with a move to Old Trafford last summer. However, the deal did not take place as David Moyes' side were unable to meet the 24-year-old's £31m release clause.

The Old Trafford outfit made an attempt at signing up the Spaniard in January. United were yet again unsuccessful in their attempt to sign Herrera as they failed to land him in two consecutive transfer windows.

The Spanish publication Fichajes claims Brendan Rodgers has set his sights on the Bilbao star as he sees Herrera as a long-term replacement for Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard at Anfield. The England international, 33, is still a key player for the Merseyside club.

The Reds' board believes Gerrard, who turns 34 in May, still has a few years of top flight football left in him. Liverpool chiefs believe Herrera could be an ideal long-term replacement for their star midfielder.

United are still believed to be interested in signing the Spanish midfielder and will make an approach for Herrera at the end of the season. However, the Basque player has already admitted that he will reject a chance from the Red Devils in the future.

"I'm not going to talk about Manchester United anymore, it doesn't help to anyone. I've already explained the situation," Herrera told the Spanish publication AS last December.

Liverpool owner John Henry is set to hand the former Swansea manager with a £60m war chest in the summer to strengthen the squad, if they qualify for next season's Champions League. The Reds registered a 2-1 victory over Sunderland in their latest league fixture.

The victory over the Black Cats has seen Rodgers' side move up to second place with 68 points from 31 games, trailing league leaders Chelsea by a point. With seven more games remaining in the current campaign, the Reds are favourites to finish the season in the top four.

With Champions League action for the next season and funds at Rodgers' disposal, Liverpool could beat United in landing Herrera after the end of the season.