On the 22nd July 2016, Sam Allardyce was appointed the manager of England’s national team. As a result, David Moyes replaced him at the Stadium of Light. Unsurprisingly, rumours began to circulate linking some United players who played for Moyes to Moyes’ new club. Marouane Fellaini was among those rumoured about. Fellaini has been unimpressive for the last three years at United and, although an occasional goal from the Belgian has helped United particularly in the FA Cup, many fans won’t be upset to see the 28-year-old leave the club as he has become a bit of a scapegoat for the club’s failings over the last year.
The 2016/17 season for Manchester United will see the return of Paul Pogba to Old Trafford for a world record transfer fee. The deal is currently awaiting official confirmation. He re-joins Manchester United to play for Jose Mourinho as the club’s tenth midfielder in the squad. The 23-year-old French international has been nominated for the prestigious FIFA Ballon d’Or award twice and is rated as one of the world’s best players, so it is hard to see him fail to make it to the starting eleven particularly with such a large price tag. Alongside Pogba, United have Ander Herrera, Andreas Pereira and Michael Carrick who are already making an impression in training and in the pre-season friendlies and with Daley Blind looking likely to play for Mourinho as a midfielder rather than a centre back, there is no room for other midfielders at the club. Even Bastian Schweinsteiger is rumoured to be surplus to requirements. Considering this, Fellaini will surely be heading out of the club.
David Moyes worked with Fellaini at Everton for five years before a single season with Fellaini at United. During this time, Fellaini scored 33 goals from 198 games and was highly rated by David Moyes. Hence the Scottish manager was willing to spend £27.5 million to bring him to Old Trafford back in 2013. This transfer fee was much greater than what Sunderland will be willing to pay for Fellaini as rumours are suggesting that Moyes is willing to spend just £13 million on the Belgian this time if the transfer does occur – a more appropriate fee considering the ability of the 28-year-old.
Moyes’ style suited Fellaini at Everton and it may also suit him at Sunderland. Sunderland’s need for good quality players if they hope to survive the relegation battle for another season and, although Fellaini was unimpressive in a United shirt and failed to meet United’s high standards, Sunderland fans would be happy to see Fellaini join their squad. Fellaini would follow Wes Brown and John O’Shea in moving from United to Sunderland in recent years if a transfer is made.
Fans of Fellaini are likely to be displeased by the rumour. However, in the last nine years, he has made 71 appearances for Belgium and Marc Wilmots has stated that he feels Fellaini was misused by Louis van Gaal and shouldn’t have played alongside another midfielder rather alone in that central midfield role or even as an attacking midfielder. Internationally, Fellaini’s performances have been considerably more impressive than they have been for his club due to this.
Despite lacking pace and the ability to get past players – both traits that Mourinho wants to see from his attacking players, Fellaini does add a strong physical presence in the box, a trait that Mourinho is also keen to see, but this is cancelled out by frequent fouls given away by the big Belgian. Sadly for Fellaini, United now have Ibrahimovic lurking in the box at 6ft 5, so subsequently Fellaini is no longer the only source of height in the squad. However, despite Fellaini standing at 6ft 4, he only managed to win 52% of headers in the Premier League last season which, considering his height, is considerably lower what would be expected from such a tall player.
If Fellaini is to stay at United, Mourinho is likely to prefer the other central and attacking midfielders to Fellaini forcing him onto the bench or even the squad entirely. Mourinho has proven to be able to get the best out of his players, but with so much youth to focus on, it shouldn’t be expected that Mourinho will focus on a 28-year-old. As a result, an exit from United is the most likely outcome for Fellaini and he would do much better playing for Moyes again and away from the high standard expected from Manchester United players.