Manchester United manager David Moyes is risking the prospect of failing for a third time in his attempts to sign a central midfielder by targeting Everton's Marouane Fellaini after giving up on signing Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas.
The Daily Mirror's John Cross reports that attentions have now turned to the Belgian international, with United refusing to submit a third offer for Barcelona star Fabregas after two initial failed attempts.
UPDATE: Wednesday, Aug. 7, at 8 a.m. ET by Ben Blackmore
There are conflicting reports over how far the transfer has advanced, with David Hytner writing in the Guardian:
Manchester United have opened negotiations with Everton over a deal for Marouane Fellaini, as David Moyes fears that his top midfield target, Cesc Fabregas of Barcelona, could prove out of reach.
However, Greg O'Keeffe of the Liverpool Echo provides quotes to the contrary from Everton boss Roberto Martinez:
There are no bids. When you read that someone is interested in someone, it doesn't mean there is a bid on the table. Marouane has been working really hard. Leighton Baines has been working really hard for the team and that's all that matters.
Headlines in the media happen at this time of the season unfortunately but it won't distract me from the work we have to do. I'm not bothered at all.
---End of update---
The Belgian played under Moyes for five years, but had been linked with a move away from the Liverpool-based outfit as he went in search of Champions League football. And it now seems the all-action midfielder may achieve his dream, with United reportedly tabling a bid following an unsuccessful pursuit of Spain international Fabregas.
Fellaini has a buyout clause of £23.5 million in his contract, meaning he would be allowed to talk to United should the fee be matched.
Cross reports, however, that United's formal bid doesn't equal that of the buyout clause, so the two teams could well battle it out for the Belgian playmaker:
Moyes - who also lost out to Bayern Munich for Barca's young midfielder Thiago Alcantara - knows Fellaini well, but also has respect for his former employers, whose left-back Leighton Baines is also on his hit-list.
New Everton boss Roberto Martinez will be determined to keep Fellaini, but the Belgian powerhouse wants to play in the Champions League - the reason that release clause was inserted in his latest contract.
The Toffees have fought off the advances of high-profile Premier League clubs in the past, and Roberto Martinez will certainly be keen on retaining the services of one of his most prized possessions.
The latest reports from fellow Mirror writer Matt Law indicate that the Belgian's clause expires on Aug. 14, with Everton then set to demand an enormous fee of £30 million thereafter.
Manchester United and Arsenal have one month to sign Everton star Marouane Fellaini. The £23.5 million buy-out clause in Fellaini’s Everton contract expires on August 14.
Fellaini still has three years remaining on his Everton deal and the Goodison Park club will demand more than £30m for the 25-year-old once his clause has expired.
If that were the case, it's tough to see Moyes stumping up such a large sum of money for his former employee—something which could spell disaster for the new Red Devils boss.
Transfer bids were very rarely made public when Sir Alex Ferguson was at the helm, but with a new manager comes a new philosophy. It seems Moyes, who is far more media-oriented with the induction of Manchester United's Twitter account, goes about his business in a different way than Ferguson.
However, 24 days remain in this busy transfer window, and one thing is for sure: Moyes needs to get his man, any man, to ensure his pack remain top of the pile with "noisy neighbours" Manchester City going quietly about their business, strengthening ahead of the new Premier League season.