If Marouane Fellaini is set for United exit, his midfield teammates should follow

Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini has been linked with an exit less than 12 months since he arrived, but does he deserve that?

When Manchester United paid Everton £27.5million for Marouane Fellaini more than a few eyebrows were raised, not least because David Moyes could have signed him for significantly less if he had activated the Belgian's release-clause earlier that summer.

But when you consider the players United had been linked with prior to Fellaini's arrival - the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara and Ander Herrera - the Toffees' midfielder was not what fans at Old Trafford were expecting.

That said, to link him with an exit for as little as £12million just nine months later may be a little harsh, especially when you consider Fellaini had to settle into a new club and a new style, and that he was later injured for a substantial portion of the season.

So following claims that the 26-year-old could soon be on his way, do the stats suggest he deserves such a fate?

The Opta figures below take into account last season's Premier League campaign, and you can see that while Fellaini failed to score a goal his midfield teammates did not exactly fare much better.  In fact, only Tom Cleverley and Michael Carrick managed to score.

Then there is the fact that of all five central midfielders listed below, Fellaini was the only player to manage an assist.  

In light of such stats, United's awful season begins to make an element of sense. After all, Fellaini may not have performed as well as was expected, but then neither did the other players in his position.

The Belgian fared considerably better than his teammates when it came to total scoring attempt and on-target scoring attempts on average per game.

  Goals / appsGoal Assist / appsKey Pass / appsTotal Scoring Att / appsOntarget Scoring Att / appsAppsMins
Tom Cleverley 0.05 0 0.45 0.68 0.23 22 1,579
Michael Carrick 0.03 0 0.97 0.59 0.17 29 2,413
Marouane Fellaini 0 0.06 0.31 1.56 0.50 16 1,106
Darren Fletcher 0 0 0.58 0.42 0.08 12 779
Ryan Giggs 0 0 0.75 0.42 0.17 12 503

Neither Juan Mata or Shinji Kagawa have been included in this analysis because, quite simply, I do not class them as central midfielders.  Both players are natural number 10s and should be treated - and played - as such.

So moving on to the more defensive areas of a midfielder's game, Fellaini again fares well, winning more tackles on average per match than any of the other four players listed.  He also won more aerial battles per match (unsurprising when you consider his height).  But he fell short in terms of accurate passes and in the number of times he was dispossessed.

  Won Tackle / appsAerial Won / appsInterception Won / appsTotal Pass / appsAccurate Pass / appsDispossessed / appsAppsMins
Marouane Fellaini 1.94 3.06 1.94 50.50 44.69 1.44 16 1,106
Tom Cleverley 1.82 0.27 1.55 51.68 46.32 0.86 22 1,579
Michael Carrick 1.48 0.83 2.76 70.72 62.66 0.48 29 2,413
Darren Fletcher 0.50 0.58 1.25 55.75 49.67 0.50 12 779
Ryan Giggs 0.33 0.17 1.00 23.92 19.92 0.92 12 503

So what does this all mean?  Simply put Fellaini fared no worse than his fellow central midfielders.  In fact in some cases he bettered them, and if the Belgian is being tipped for a summer exit, then why not Cleverley, Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick as well.  

After all, none of them performed as they should have, so to single out a man who was only recently through the door seems both unfair and wrong.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch