Everton FC: Why the Toffees Must Retain Marouane Fellaini at All Costs
Of course, most Toffee supporters have been lauding his talents for years, but with goals and assists replacing last year's less glamorous input of tackles, his work has now reached a far wider audience.
Accompanying this national acclaim has been the recurring theme that his exploits will soon result in an inevitable move away from Goodison Park—a scenario Everton simply cannot accept if they hope to progress.
This season, Fellaini is not only the Toffees’ top goal scorer but is also the team's co-leader in assists. He has fashioned out the third-most chances in the squad and has still had time to win possession in midfield more than any other teammate.
Before returning to his advanced role, last season's defensive work in front of the back four, or as a box-to-box midfielder, was similarly elite. His ball-winning statistics alone were the best in the league by a considerable margin, demonstrating his influence at both ends of the field.
Whether he plays in attack or midfield, his input is so often decisive; replacing it would be an almighty task the Toffees would be unlikely to achieve.
As well as his individual excellence, Fellaini has also helped expand his side’s approach and given Everton a new identity—arguably more important facets.
With Fellaini up-field, David Moyes has been able to be considerably more versatile with his tactics, often targeting the Belgian’s chest to win instant possession in dangerous areas.
As a result, a higher line has been enforced, keeping Everton in the final third for much longer periods and resulting in this season's deluge of chances.
In short, he has helped make Everton a far better side by his play and by his presence too. Losing him would not only leave a huge void on the roster but would leave his side unable to maintain this stylistic shift that has made them a far harder unit to better.
This season, the Toffees' ambitions are to return to Europe, with Moyes hoping his side can keep hold of their current Champions League spot for as long as possible. Without Fellaini, this would become almost impossible.
While the sides that make the Champions League are blessed with numerous world-class players, those teams on the outside looking in, such as Everton, have one or two.
Sunday's opponents Tottenham have Gareth Bale and Moussa Dembele, while Fellaini and Leighton Baines are Everton's equivalent. Those players need to be built around and fought for as aggressively as possible—losing them can only be a last resort.
If Everton hope to make that next step and qualify for the Champions League or win a trophy—surely Moyes' and the club's ultimate ambitions—Fellaini must remain at Goodison Park for as long as possible.
Selling him in the near future is something the club's hierarchy simply cannot condone.
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