Everton Transfers: 5 Potential Replacements for Marouane Fellaini
Marouane Fellaini's generally impressive season at Everton is widely expected to be his last for the Merseyside club.
Most football writers and—to a certain degree—many supporters too, envisage the Belgian playing in the Champions League next season, a stage the Toffees seem unlikely to reach.
As much as selling one of your marquee names is seen to be negative, Fellaini's potential departure provides Everton with a chance to improve their style while, of course, accepting an attractive fee for his services.
Fellaini has individually shone this season, but playing with a deep-lying target man has limited the Toffees' versatility and on-field fluency, as well as blunting the effectiveness of Nikica Jelavic.
Should the majority be right, and Fellaini indeed be on his way in the summer, here's a look at five players who Everton may look at to replace him with.
Everton were tantalisingly close to recruiting Leroy Fer in January, unable to conclude a deal after complications arose over the state of his medical condition (via BBC Sport).
If recent rumours are at all accurate (via the Daily Mail), the Toffees still harbour ambitions of bringing in Fer during the summer, which would certainly improve their midfield.
The Dutch international is an energetic, archetypal box-to-box man, capable of a rasping shot and a crunching tackle. He would add physicality and some much-needed pace to the Toffees engine room.
Of course, Fellaini has predominantly been playing off the front man this season. Therefore, by splashing out on Fer, Everton would use his attributes to boost their midfield, relying on the likes of Steven Pienaar, Leon Osman and Kevin Mirallas to fill the attacking central berth previously taken by Fellaini.
Adam Lallana's rapid development has been one of the highlights of the season for Southampton.
Armed with a fine touch and excellent vision, Lallana has created 35 chances (via EPL Index) in his 23 Premier League appearances, a tally only Steven Pienaar and Leighton Baines can better for Everton.
The Saints' skipper has generally featured in a wide attacking berth, but is versatile enough to play behind a striker or as an orthodox midfielder.
Should Everton target him in the summer, he would help transpose their style into a more fluent, attacking approach, far more attractive to supporters and more cohesive for the team.
His knack of providing through balls for a striker is also a trait Nikica Jelavic would surely thrive on and the fact Lallana was a boyhood Everton supporter would make him an instant hit with the Goodison Park faithful.
The Spaniard has scored 15 goals in the Premier League and been integral to the Welsh side's impressive campaign that saw them lift the Capital One Cup just a few weeks ago.
Despite a freshly-inked new contract, it's clear Swansea will be fighting off some considerable interest in his services after this year's exploits.
If Everton are looking to replace Fellaini, they will be doing so with a boosted bank balance and may just be able to muscle their way into the running.
Deployed as secondary striker or as an genuine front man, Michu would provide the Toffees with similar attributes to Fellaini—especially in the air and with his hold-up play—albeit with far greater potency in the box.
With Phil Neville and Leon Osman approaching the end of their careers, Everton's midfield is certainly in need of being revitalised with a couple of younger names.
As with Leroy Fer, if the Toffees want to shore up their middle and rely on others to fill the attacking berths, Porto's 24-year-old Steven Defour could be another option to consider here.
While Fer would provide a physical presence, Defour would add extra creativity as a playmaker, bringing a wide array of passes and boasting impressive technique.
Should Fellaini leave in the next few months, they would be far more capable of finally striking a deal.
Sticking with the Porto theme, another possible name for the Toffees to consider could be Ghanaian international, Christian Atsu, who has recently been linked with a move to Everton (via the Express).
Blessed with lightning speed and acceleration, Atsu is a natural winger, but has also spent time playing as a second striker during his time in Portugal.
His attributes suggest he would be a natural fit in the English league and his potential signing could again allow the likes of Steven Pienaar or Kevin Mirallas the chance to play behind the front man, giving the Toffees a new dimension going forward.