Late last week, the Daily Mail claimed that incoming Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal had implored chief executive Ed Woodward to sell £27 million ‘flop’ Marouane Fellaini.
The Dutchman reportedly referred to the midfielder as ‘not a United type of player’ in expressing his wish to jettison the September 2013 deadline day purchase sanctioned by David Moyes.
Fellaini himself only fanned the flames in later refusing to rule out an Old Trafford exit: “We will see after the World Cup,” he said when asked if he’ll still be a United player next term.
And with the distinctive midfielder’s Belgium now out of the World Cup, the time has seemingly come for his future at the club level to be resolved.
According to Corriere dello Sport, Serie A side Fiorentina are currently eyeing up a move for Fellaini with van Gaal reportedly ready to wield the axe on the ex-Everton man.
The newspaper’s claim conjures up images of another notorious United flop - Anderson - who spent the second half of last season on loan with none other than Fiorentina.
Hopes for an Italian renaissance were high for the Brazilian when he arrived in Florence in January. But dreams of Anderson turning around his stalling career at the Artemio Franchi were quickly dashed as he failed to have much of an impact in the centre of the park for the Viola and was unable to earn a permanent switch.
At a base level, he struggled even to get into Vincenzo Montella’s side. Anderson managed just 295 minutes of football across all competitions, never quite looking comfortable in Montella’s fluid system - which calls for dynamic midfielders able to transition between a variety of formations.
The question posed is whether Fellaini could succeed at Fiorentina where his United team-mate fell flat.
Corriere dello Sport maintain that the Viola want Fellaini to complement creative force Borja Valero in midfield, providing strength and steel alongside the Spanish playmaker.
Since arriving at Fiorentina two years ago, Montella has favored a midfield consisting almost entirely of ball-playing midfielders. Fellaini’s arrival foreseeably would signal a slight shift in the coach’s thinking - furnishing the spine of the side with brawn as well as technical ability.
The good news in the case of Fellaini, who struggled at United in a more defensive role than he played during his successful Everton days, is that rigidity isn’t in Montella’s coaching vocabulary.
Whilst he’d add physicality to Fiorentina’s midfield, he’d have ample opportunity to get forward as well - contributing on both fronts. This stands in contrast to Anderson’s time in Florence, as he could never quite prove his value to Montella - neither defensively sound enough nor sufficiently threatening in attack to merit inclusion in a possession-based system.
Unfortunately for Fellaini, however, it’s quite unlikely he’ll ever get to try his hand at accomplishing what Anderson couldn’t with Fiorentina.
Even if United agreed to sell Fellaini at a significant £12 million loss, the Viola would still need to dole out a club transfer record £15 million to sign him.
And beyond the Belgian’s fee, the £75,000 per week Fellaini reportedly earns at Old Trafford would make him the highest paid player at Fiorentina by some distance.
The Viola are almost certainly not prepared to make such a financial commitment to sign any player this summer, let alone Fellaini.
In turn, short of United and Fellaini simultaneously agreeing to take considerable financial hits to make a deal possible, there seems to be little chance he’ll end up at Fiorentina.
Van Gaal could indeed be prepared to see off Fellaini and the Viola may be a keenly interested party, but the chances of the midfielder making his way to Florence this summer look remote for the time being due to financial constraints.