The Belgian midfield enforcer instead swapped Goodison Park for Old Trafford where he reunited with former Toffees boss David Moyes for a fee of £27.5 million.
However, the 25-year-old has failed to impress so far this term after a succession of lackluster displays for the Red Devils, including his sending off in the last minute of their Champions League 0-0 draw away at Real Sociedad on Tuesday night.
Instead of signing Fellaini prior to the expiry of his £22 million release clause at Everton, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger rehired the former Gunners midfielder Mathieu Flamini on a free transfer.
Some Arsenal fans had baulked at the re-employment of the 29-year-old Frenchman prior to the record signing of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid.
However, since his return to the Emirates, Flamini has been something of a revelation for the Gunners and has been a key component of the campaign that currently sees Arsenal top of the Premier League table, five points clear of Chelsea.
Fellaini, meanwhile, has made 11 appearances for United, four as a substitute and has appeared on just four occasions for a full 90 minutes this term. The Belgian’s passing has been poor this term so far – his pass completion rate stands at just 89.5% compared to Flamini’s 93.2% Mikel Arteta’s astonishing 93.9%.
As for defensive capabilities, Fellaini has made just 1 tackle per game as an average – even Tom Cleverley has managed to get 2.4 per game – and Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey has managed no less than 4.7 tackles per game on average this term with Arteta making 3.2 on average and Flamini getting 1.6 per game.
You would think being over 6ft4” inches tall might give Fellaini an aerial advantage but he’s won just 2.2 aerial duels per game on average compared to his 6ft2” namesake and former Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh who’s won a whopping 5.8 per game for Crystal Palace.
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud has managed to win 5 aerial duels per game on average and even Bacary Sagna has won 2.7 per game despite being just 5ft9”.
Perhaps Fellaini’s talent for interceptions is what makes him worth his fee? As a defensive and physical midfielder you would hope so and you’d be right – he has made 1.6 interceptions per game on average compared to Flamini’s 1.4 per game. That’s got to be worth £27.5 million hasn’t it?
Flamini and Fellaini happen to give away the exact same number of fouls per game – one each – but Flamini actually makes more clearances 1.4 per game) than his Belgian counterpart (1.2 per game). Flamini also blocks slightly more shots for Arsenal (0.4 per game) than Fellaini does for the Red Devils (0.2 per game) and Flamini gets dispossessed less (0.6 times per game) than Fellaini (once per game on average).
Flamini has the joint-most yellow cards (4 in total) in the Premier League of which Fellaini has none but, crucially, Flamini has yet to get himself sent off at all for Arsenal this season across all competitions which, as of Tuesday night, can no longer be said of Marouane Fellaini.
Who knows what happened this summer? Maybe Wenger accidently spelled the signing’s name on the form wrong (they are quite similar and he is quite old) or maybe he didn’t fancy Fellaini at all and felt £27.5 million was a bit steep. If that’s the case, so far he’d be exactly right – he saved himself that money and signed Flamini for absolutely nothing and so far the Frenchman’s proving to be the better signing.
image: © nicksarebi