Arsene Wenger can't afford to have a disappointing summer. The longtime Arsenal manager must emerge with a roster more capable of challenging for the Premier League title. Marouane Fellaini is one potential target capable of helping the cause.
Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail reported there's mutual interest between Arsenal and the midfielder. That said, the total cost of a possible agreement, which could approach £50 million, is making things more difficult to work through.
In addition to his wage demands, Arsenal would also be required to meet Fellaini's £22m release clause – which could see the cost of the deal spiral to as much as £50m.
And while Arsenal chiefs are keen on securing Fellaini's services this summer, it is understood there is reluctance to meet those financial demands.
Although the cost is certainly an issue that must be considered, it's always going to take a large investment to acquire established talent like Fellaini. Sooner or later, the Gunners need to take a couple chances in order to seriously challenge United and Co.
Fellaini is the type of player capable of helping Arsenal reach that next level. It took a couple seasons for the 25-year-old Belgian international to establish himself with Everton. But now he's coming off his most productive season to date and should be hitting his peak.
He tallied 11 goals and seven assists in league play last season. For an Everton club that struggled to find consistent attacking options, his ability to help out moving forward was a pleasant surprise.
It also further illustrated his versatility. Fellaini is at his best when playing in the central midfield or as a defensive midfielder, but when Everton needed him to jump-start the attack, he didn't hesitate. That would come in handy for Wenger.
In all likelihood, he would shift back toward more of a defensive role with Arsenal, which would allow Mikel Arteta to move up. Not only would Fellaini still make a significant impact, but Arteta can then better utilize his playmaking talent.
Furthermore, if there was a match when Arsenal was struggling to produce chances, Wenger could push Fellaini forward with hopes his size and aerial ability could wreak some havoc. He gives managers plenty of options to mix and match the lineups and formations.
The other thing Arsenal would always get from the talented midfielder is a remarkable work rate. It's often an overlooked trait, but Fellaini is rarely outworked on the pitch and wins the 50-50 balls Arsenal lost too often last season.
His ability to help a team not only in the major areas, but also in the smaller things like winning possession and disrupting an opponent's attack is why he's worth such a major investment. He's one of the major reasons Everton have been pretty successful despite their lack of funds.
Arsenal need more of those types of players if they are going to contend for trophies. Make no mistake, the Gunners can't expect him to become the only major addition and think he will cure all their problems. But he would certainly make his presence felt.
Wenger should work hard throughout the summer to get Fellaini to the Emirates.