Manchester United bid farewell to a host of players this summer as Louis van Gaal has begun the process of overhauling the squad.
The likes of Nani, Javier Hernandez and Shinji Kagawa were all shipped out along with a bevy of other underachieving stars, making way for £150 million plus’ worth of new arrivals.
But Marouane Fellaini, the enduring symbol of the brief and barren David Moyes era, is still on the books at Old Trafford despite being tipped for a summer exit.
The £27.5 million midfielder was most prominently linked with a loan move to Napoli, with Rafael Benitez on the prowl for a physical midfielder.
Reports claimed that a deal was already in place between Napoli and United. However, Fellaini picked up an ankle problem, with the Partenopei opting for ex-Swansea man Jonathan de Guzman instead.
FIFA agent Fabrizio Ferrari has now revealed that the Belgian responded enthusiastically to the idea of joining Napoli. But Fellaini’s injury - and the San Paolo outfit’s lost revenue from Champions League elimination - meant the deal in reality never got off the ground.
Ferrari told Radio Kiss Kiss: ‘Was Fellaini close to the Azzurri? There was only a friendly phone call, in which he told me how beautiful Napoli is.
‘Then there was the player’s injury and Napoli’s Champions League exit, which meant negotiations never really even got started.’
Fellaini now faces up to three more weeks on the treatment table, after which he’ll return to van Gaal’s side facing uncertain prospects this campaign.
The deadline day capture of Daley Blind to further bolster United’s midfield means competition has only increased in the centre of the park, leaving him with a tough task.
Moving to Napoli would’ve given Fellaini the chance to get back on track - restoring lost value that United could eventually cash in on - yet unfortunate circumstances scuppered that option.
Instead, Fellaini remains at United’s disposal. Whether he can carve out a role at Old Trafford this term remains to be seen. But for the time being at least, all Fellaini can do is look to win the confidence of van Gaal upon returning to full fitness - and show he can be an asset to the Dutchman's ongoing project at Old Trafford.