Five Reasons Why Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines Should Not Drop Everton
Over the summer, rumours circulated throughout the football world concerning what was seen as the inevitable departure of Everton superstar's Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines to more illustrious clubs.
Baines, the Blues' premier left-back and one of the most consistent players in the Premier League, was linked for several months to Manchester United, who were looking for a back-up option to aging Patrice Evra. Reports of a £10 million bid spread, but neither club confirmed any offer was made, and local Liverpudlian Baines stayed at Goodison Park.
Fellaini, after links to Chelsea died down fairly early in the transfer window, played his own part in fueling transfer speculation. Particularly, when he put his foot in his mouth last month during international duty with Belgium by claiming he would leave Everton following this season for a new "club or league."
Both players have made over 100 appearances for the Toffees and are fan favorites for their phenomenal attacking play at times. Baines left-sided partnership with Steven Pienaar and Fellaini's strength and aerial dominance when pushed up higher in the midfield make them some of the most dangerous and thrilling footballers in England.
Here are five reasons why the Everton stars should stick with the Blues for at least a few more campaigns.
Prospect of European Football
Everton have finished the past three EPL seasons just outside of the European qualifying places.
Despite being a regular "Top 10" club, and often threatening the established elite in England, they have missed Europe too regularly recently to draw in other big-name players and keep those already in their squad fully satisfied.
However, the Blues have started this campaign brightly and are playing absolutely exquisite football. They currently sit in fourth place, which is foreign for David Moyes' men this early in the season.
Liverpool's continued failure to find form and crippling injury problems, as well as the potential decline of Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur, might provide the clearest way into the top places.
While Champion's League football will be quite hard to attain with the two Manchester clubs, Arsenal, and Chelsea also starting the season well, a spot in the Europa League would provide extra football for fringe players at Everton and potential for continental glory for the club.
Eventually, Baines and Fellaini should both be playing CL football. Hopefully, that will be with Everton. If they are to leave, the Blues would need massive restructuring to maintain their push in upcoming campaigns.
Secured Place in Blues' First-Team
The benefits of playing for a mid-table club with consistent performances is that Baines and Fellaini will certainly not be losing their place in the near future.
While players at squads with more depth compete on a weekly basis for a place in the starting eleven, better footballers at Everton are guaranteed first-team football when fit.
In the past four seasons with the club, Baines has played in every match, only missing four last season due to injury and once in 2009-10. The arrival of Bryan Oviedo has certainly brought some competition for the left-back slot, but the Costa Rican is more an apprentice than a threat to the long-serving Baines.
Fellaini, on the other hand, has had more consistent injury problems and only made over 30 appearances for the club once (last season) in his past five with the Blues.
Nevertheless, whether he is in defensive midfield or pushed up to what was formerly recognized as the "Tim Cahill role", the massive Belgian does not miss out on David Moyes' first-team when not injured.
Despite his good form this season, and huge contributions in the air and in build-up play, Fellaini would not have the same benefit at a club of larger status, such as Chelsea. Right now, his competition in midfield are Phil Neville, Francisco Junior, the newly-arrived Thomas Hitzlsperger (taking into account Darron Gibson as the other starter).
So, obviously, Baines and Fellaini look to have security offered little elsewhere if they choose to stay with Everton for their long-term futures.
High Salaries That Equate with Game-Time
The challenge for Premier League clubs not owned by oil-rich sheiks or foreign billionaires is to keep star players happy on salaries that are less than often-mediocre players at clubs such as Manchester City and Liverpool.
And, whereas the entrance of such vast money has certainly tarnished the game and made players increasingly fickle in their selfishness to make more regardless of playing time, it is what keeps even the most humble players happy enough to be at the clubs that need them.
In the case of Fellaini, who is Everton's highest-paid player at £75,000 a week, there should be no desire to leave the club for money. However, when you take into consideration the fact that a player like Jack Rodwell, who was below the Belgian in Moyes' pecking order, earns £100,000 weekly at Manchester City, it slightly changes the situation.
Nevertheless, the equation of playing time combined with salary for players who actually still love the game is proper enough at Everton for footballers of Baines and Fellaini's quality.
Sure, both players could probably slot into the starting eleven at many clubs, but positions at places such at Manchester United and Chelsea will be hard to cement and can easily be lost with fans accustomed to trophies and instant success.
Confidence of Long-Serving Coach
One of the major problems with modern-day football is the turnover of managers.
Oftentimes, that results in coaches buying players to be first-team regulars, then getting sacked and having those players fall out-of-favor with incoming managers.
It has been such a problem at Manchester City that footballers such as Emmanuel Adebayor and Roque Santa Cruz purchased by ex-gaffer Mark Hughes had to be loaned out multiple times, their salaries still paid for by City, before eventually being sold for a massive loss.
Considering that David Moyes is the third longest-serving manager in English football at 11 years with the club, most players who perform consistently and produce for Everton do not run the risk of falling out and wasting away on the bench.
The Scotsman has often been accused of negative tactics, but it seems he has wholehearted respect of the entire staff at the club, and Baines and Fellaini have not uttered any words against the manager himself.
Both footballers will have and should continue to benefit from the support of a manager who has spent millions of pounds on them and been willing to nurture them into the club ethos.
Fan Favorites vs. Traitors
It's dangerous business for fan favorites to leave the clubs that made them great.
If you don't happen to submit to that theory, just ask Wayne Rooney how Everton fans react towards his presence every time he returns to Goodison Park.
That is not to justify the action of the supporters. But, certainly, frustrations brew when footballers on good salaries and well-respected by the club leave or make a big spectacle in order to attain better contracts at more illustrious clubs.
Baines, a Liverpool local and Everton supporter himself, would not likely leave on his own. Like Mikel Arteta, it would be decision left to the manager and likely after a few more seasons at Goodison Park once his performances begin to decline.
The story changes with a player like Fellaini, who is foreign and has already made the mistake this summer of speaking with local Belgian press about leaving the club in the future.
Although there could have been a mistranslation, the reaction of Blues supporters was immediate and many were frustrated with Everton's best player at the beginning of this campaign.
In the end, Baines and Fellaini may be two very different players. But, their significance to the Everton cause is equally important. So, the decision will be theirs if they are to remain fan favorites or be branded mercenaries as Rooney and Joleon Lescott before them.