Marouane Fellaini Wasn't the First Choice, but Still Addresses a Need for United
There are three sides to every transfer.
Regarding Marouane Fellaini’s 11th-hour switch to Manchester United on transfer deadline day, former club Everton played hard ball and brought in £27.5 million for a player they acquired from Standard Liege in 2008 for just over half that amount.
Marouane Fellaini joins Manchester United from Everton for £27.5million #SkyDeadlineDay— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) September 2, 2013
They also refused to sell the Belgium international until Wigan had sanctioned their own approach for James McCarthy, whom Toffees manager Roberto Martinez had worked with at the DW Stadium and who required a £13 million commitment before joining the Liverpool club.
Then there is Fellaini, himself—the on-again, off-again United target who was so keen on an Old Trafford switch that he drove to Everton’s Finch Farm training complex to table a transfer request in person.
Having played five seasons under new United boss David Moyes at Everton and confident that his longtime manager will provide him first-team minutes at his new club, he won’t mind at all that he was the Red Devils’ sixth or seventh choice to strengthen a much-maligned midfield.
Although he certainly was.
Having missed out on primary target Thiago Alcantara—the Barcelona starlet who joined Bayern Munich instead—and then failing to land Cesc Fabregas, Daniele De Rossi, Sami Khedira and Ander Herrera (the latter in supposedly bizarre and embarrassing circumstances), United went back to Fellaini at the last minute, with the summer transfer window about to slam shut.
That is to say they fell back on a player they knew they could get all along, but in the end found themselves paying a premium for because of their indecisive behaviour in the summer market.
Not that Fellaini won’t be able to do a job at United.
In 31 Premier League appearances last season, the 25-year-old scored 11 goals—two of them game-winners—contributed six assists and placed an impressive 60 percent of his shots on target. (Statistics and graphs courtesy Squawka.com.)
He also averaged four defensive actions per match and completed 79 percent of his passes—a rate that is actually more impressive than it suggests, given that many of them were made in the high-risk area of the attacking third.
So far this campaign Fellaini, in a deeper role under Martinez, has completed an impressive 89 percent of his passes, made six defensive actions per match and won more than two-thirds of his aerial duals.
As a result he will likely begin his United career alongside Michael Carrick in the centre of the park, although his versatility and history of a more attacking role under Moyes will make him available for operation further up the park as well.
Given the players United approached before getting serious about Fellaini, it’s safe to say he was never their primary transfer target heading into the summer.
But that doesn’t mean he won’t be effective, and while Moyes might have preferred his former understudy to follow a Thiago or Herrera into the club, making do with Fellaini will hardly be the end of the world.
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