Manchester United tried to sign Ander Herrera last summer. [Reuters]

Two Manchester United scouts watched Athletic Bilbao playmaker Ander Herrera score one goal and grab an assist in his side's 6-1 win over Almeria ahead of a possible fresh January bid for the Spaniard, reports in Spain claim.

United were close to signing Herrera last summer to the point where some reports suggested that the deal was done. However, the Red Devils finally refused to meet his £36m release clause and decided instead to sign Marouane Fellaini.

The Belgium international has failed to make the impact that was expected in David Moyes' midfield and the United boss is set to go back for the Spaniard with a new January bid.

According to Spanish newspaper Daily AS Moyes sent two representatives to the San Mames Stadium last Saturday to scout Herrera's performance against Almeria.

Speculation of a new offer from United to sign the player has increased after Manchester United chief scout Robbie Cooke also watched the 25-year-old midfielder in a recent game against Real Sociedad.

However, according to AS, a January deal is going to be even more complicated than last summer. Athletic are still not open to any offers below his release clause and the player is unlikely to move to the Premier League during this transfer window.

Indeed, last December the Spaniard claimed that he has no intention to leave Athletic and AS report that nothing has changed since then.

"I'm not going to talk about Manchester United anymore, it doesn't help to anyone. I've already explained the situation. I feel good here, like I've always said and I'm going to continue with Athletic."

Although Herrera struggled to secure a place in the Athletic starting line-up at the start of the season he has become a key player for manager Ernersto Valverde recently, starting the last six games.