Sources close to Ander Herrera insist the Manchester United midfielder did NOT deliberately spit on Manchester City’s badge during Saturday’s Manchester derby.
Video footage has emerged showing the Spaniard spitting as he walked over a large City crest which adorns the floor at the mouth of the tunnel at the Etihad Stadium.
The footage was captured as the players left the pitch at half-time, with United 2-0 down. They went on to win 3-2 after a stirring second-half comeback.
Herrera was quickly condemned for the incident, but a source close to the United player told Press Association Sport: “It was 100 per cent unintentional, he had no idea the badge was there.
“As a person who respects football and its traditions he would never do something like that.”
It is understood City are aware of the incident but do not intend to escalate it by making any formal complaint to the Football Association.
Players are often seen spitting on the field before, during and after matches and as Herrera was walking directly towards the tunnel, with no deviation, it would surely prove difficult to establish any malign intent.
A United spokesman added: “Ander has seen the footage of the incident and is mortified at any suggestion that his actions were deliberate.
“It was entirely accidental and there was no intent whatsoever.”
Herrera later responded to the claims with a post on Instagram: