Everton's eye-catching Marouane Fellaini looks set to be the subject of a tug of love scrap between Manchester United and Chelsea according to reports.
Reports state that though the 25-year-old Fellaini signed a five-year deal at Goodison Park in 2011, it contained a get-out clause that would force Everton to accept a bid of £22million or more from a club playing Champions League football.
Fellaini’s talent and production are undeniable. He had eight goals and three assists this season while playing as an attacking central midfielder.
Premier League defenders have grown accustomed to dealing with smaller, quicker players in the No. 10 role. But Fellaini’s attacking style is in direct contrast to midfield maestro’s like Juan Mata and Santi Cazorla.
The Everton star has proven to be bigger and stronger than many of the Premiership’s most fearsome centre-backs.
While his attacking ability makes him an intriguing player for the Red Devils, it is his versatility and toughness that would make him an ideal addition.
He has proved himself capable of playing deeper down the pitch during his career with the Toffees. He can also make an impact while playing behind Wayne Rooney or Shinji Kagawa when Sir Alex Ferguson opts to play with three central midfielders.
Fellaini would also fit well when the team plays a traditional 4-4-2, and he would give United an edge in the midfield that they have not had in many years.
Concerns over signing Fellaini have been raised after he received a three-match ban for head-butting Stoke City’s Ryan Shawcross. He clearly crossed a line in this incident and deserved the punishment he received, but the incident is not all that surprising given Fellaini’s temperament and style of play.
His physicality and constant willingness to create contact with opposing defenders can certainly get on players' nerves. When this happens, one thing often leads to another, and in this case, Fellaini was the one who lost his temper first.
What should be United's top priority in January?
If the Belgian does move to Old Trafford, it will be up to Ferguson to harness that aggression and ensure that Fellaini plays more controlled. He did this successfully with Roy Keane for many years, and the former United midfielder’s temper was an intimidating factor throughout his career.
Fellaini is a special player, because he has the ability to score goals, but he can also act as an enforcer in the center of the pitch.
With a lack of reliable long-term options at central midfielder, United would be wise to heavily pursue Fellaini in January. If the team chooses to wait until the summer, it will risk losing him to Chelsea.
If Sir Alex does make a push to sign a player in this transfer window, Fellaini is the best target available.