Speaking to beIN Sport, the Belgian said, “Chelsea? No comment. Arsenal? It’s true, they were interested, but Manchester United convinced me to sign for them.”
Prior to this season, that would have no doubt been news that warmed the hearts of United fans and disappointed an Arsenal faithful desperate for reinforcements.
And yet now, Fellaini’s comments are arguably just another reason for Gunners fans to smile.
After all, they may have missed out on the £27million Belgian, but in so doing they ultimately signed a Frenchman on a free. And while the former continues to struggle to live up to both his price-tag and his reputation, the latter has slotted seamlessly back into Arsenal’s starting XI.
In short, Fellaini is looking like an expensive mistake and Flamini a bargain of the highest order.
For those questioning my reasoning, consider Flamini’s impending absence with a groin injury for matches against the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund and United.
The news that the Frenchman would miss such vital encounters was treated with universal disappointment by the club’s fans.
Prior to his injury, Arsene Wenger said – in typically understated fashion – that, “Flamini has been important in the balance of our team.”
While Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud have taken the majority of the plaudits, Flamini has quietly given them the platform on which to do that.
He does the unnoticeable things that swiftly become noticeable if there is no one there to do them.
Fellaini, on the other hand, has failed in the majority of his efforts to do the same.
The signs looked good against Bayer Leverkusen, when the Belgian bossed the midfield, intercepting the ball and being practically everywhere in the way Owen Hargreaves briefly did at Old Trafford.
But since seen the opposition have played around him, and for all his energy it appeared he was always a second too late. To such an extent that he has spent recent matches on the bench, watching his teammates play their way into form.
It is telling that Ryan Giggs offered more pace and guile against Real Sociedad than a player 14 years his junior; and that when David Moyes required a transformation against Stoke City he called on three players ahead of the man he had spent so much of the summer pursuing.
There is still time for Fellaini to become an integral part of United’s team. But for now, as Arsenal look down from their lofty perch, they will hope the temporary absence of a vital component of their squad does not see the gap between Flamini and Fellaini’s clubs narrow in the weeks to come.
image: © nicksarebi