Everton’s midfield enforcer Marouane Fellaini has a well-documented release clause tied into his contract at Goodison Park of £22 million that expires on July 31st, with Manchester United and Arsenal linked with signing him up.
New Toffees boss Robert Martinez insisted this week that the Merseyside club have not received any offers for the Belgian midfielder or his teammate fullback Leighton Baines.
Both players have been heavily linked with Manchester United but Fellaini has also been linked with London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea. His sensational form with Everton last term, scoring 12 goals in all competitions from defensive midfield seemed sure to make him one of the most coveted players in England this summer but, as of yet, no one appears to be prepared to pull the trigger that would make his departure possible.
With time running out, who (if anyone) will get the ball rolling on the transfer? Fellaini’s former manager at Goodison Park, David Moyes could be tempted to bring one of his best players along with him to Old Trafford where the Scot has taken the reigns at Manchester United from the retired Sir Alex Ferguson.
Earlier this month, reports emerged that Arsenal had triggered Fellaini’s release clause and the player himself was photographed spending his leisure time with Arsenal vice-captain and former Everton favourite Mikel Arteta.
Chelsea had also been linked with the 6ft4” Belgian but since the return of Jose Mourinho, that reported ‘interest’ seems to have cooled considerably. It’s looking a little bit frosty out there for Fellaini who must have expected to have offers coming in left, right and centre for him this summer, off the back of his performance last term.
Arsenal, especially, are in desperate need of a genuine defensive midfielder since they sold Alex Song to Barcelona last year and have been deploying Arteta in his position ever since.
With the Gunners willing to spend £40-odd million pound on Liverpool’s Luis Suarez it would appear they’ve taken their eye off the ball – Fellaini is undoubtedly one of the best midfielders in the league at present and is exactly the kind of player they need to sure up their defence of they intent to challenge for titles next term.
A striker is of paramount important but let’s not forget they do have Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski – they do not have a single defensive midfielder in their first-team squad. They’ve sent young Francis Coquelin out on loan, which would suggest they were intending to wrap up a signing in his position that would render the Frenchman surplus to requirements but with just a matter of days left on Fellaini’s release clause, Arsenal run the risk of being timed out.
Neither Manchester United or Chelsea desperately need an addition in that position – the Red Devils have Michael Carrick who was outstanding last term, and they’re hoping Darren Fletcher will return to full fitness soon and even young Phil Jones is more than capable of being deployed there.
Chelsea have John Obi Mikel as well as Michael Essien who returns along with Mourinho from Real Madrid where he spent last season on loan, as well as Ramires and David Luiz who can and have both been deployed there.
image: © nicksarebi