The Reds' outstanding Barclays Premier League form has ensured the title looks likely to be a two-horse race with Manchester City and the focus on capturing a 20th title, coupled with the second-leg defeat to Ajax in the previous round, has led some pundits to suggest Europe is not high on the club's list of priorities. However, the midfielder is bracing himself for a formidable challenge posed by the team placed fifth in La Liga and is determined the progress is maintained in the competition.
"Bilbao will have to be respected," he stated. "It is still a European competition. It is one we are desperate to win. We have never really been part of it. Who knows when the chance to win it will come round again? We want to grasp it. As players and, as a club, we are determined to go far."
When asked if it is difficult to get motivated for the Europa League, he replied: "It is not difficult to think we want to win it. It is understandable the reaction people give you and how people see it. But we are professionals and we are in this tournament, playing for this great club.
"It doesn't take much motivation from the players' point of view. It's a competition we want to win. I want to win it. I've never played in this competition. We are still desperate to go as far as we would do in the Champions League."
United will certainly be looking to take a lead to the San Mames Stadium, which is known as La Catedral and can be an intimidating arena, while avoiding a repeat of the performance against Ajax at Old Trafford.