The remnants of the David Moyes era at Manchester United look set be eradicated at the earliest opportunity, as reports suggest one of the Scot's marquee signings could be on his way out of Old Trafford in a cut-price deal.
That man, of course, is Marouane Fellaini. Despite enjoying a prosperous relationship together at Everton, even Moyes has admitted he had other targets in mind in his brief stint with United, such as former midfielder Paul Pogba and Toni Kroos, per The Sunday Times (h/t Ben Jefferson of Express):
If it were possible, I would have tried to bring him [Pogba] back to Manchester United. He has flourished in Serie A since joining Juve at the age of 19 but that has been no surprise to those who worked with him at Old Trafford.
It is no secret that I had put a lot of groundwork into signing [Kroos] for Manchester United. What I like about Kroos is that he plays the ball to penetrate, he doesn't do passing for passing's sake.
Louis van Gaal will take charge at the club next season, and while his attention will be focused squarely on the Netherlands national team ahead of the 2014 World Cup, you suspect that behind the scenes back in Manchester, there will be plenty of foundations being laid for next season.
The Red Devils have also been strongly linked with a vibrant attacking player who would surely get fans up off their seats at Old Trafford.
Here’s the very latest when it comes to all things United-related in the transfer market.
After signing for United just nine months ago, it appears as though Fellaini could have donned the iconic red shirt for the last time. That’s according to James Ducker of The Times (subscription required), who suggests that the Old Trafford outfit are set to listen to offers for the midfielder.
According to ESPN.co.uk, that could see the Belgian available for a fee of around £15 million, a figure just over half of the £27.5 million fee that United initially shelled out for his services.
Despite being linked with a move away from the club, Fellaini recently insisted he's learnt a lot from his first season at Old Trafford, courtesy of BeNeFoot:
Fellaini in la DH: "I've learned a lot this year. I've had quite a few tough moments this season but that happens to every player." #mufc— BeNeFoot (@BeNeFoot) June 5, 2014
Fellaini: I've toughened up. It's the first time things haven't gone so well. I don't need to pay attention to what (the critics) say #mufc— BeNeFoot (@BeNeFoot) June 5, 2014
In the season before making the move to Manchester, Fellaini was one of the standout players in the Premier League at Everton. His penchant for physically dominating the centre of the pitch with his unorthodox somatotype made him a real handful for opposing teams, and he regularly chipped in with a stream of goals and assists.
But stylistically, he wasn’t the right fit for United. At Everton—a team who were direct in their approach under Moyes—he was able to use his physical frame to great effect. But such is the tradition for fast, attacking, incisive football at Old Trafford, the attributes of Fellaini were never going to make for a happy marriage.
If a club should pick up Fellaini and play to his strengths, he can be an incredible talent on his day. But Van Gaal will set his team up with different mantras in mind, and as such, expect the Belgian to be looking for a new side come the end of the summer.
The Ukrainian wide-man has a £12 million release clause in his contract, and, according to Richard Jolly of ESPN.co.uk, he is on Van Gaal’s list of summer targets.
Konoplyanka has long been linked with a move to Liverpool, per Charles Perrin of Express, but with the Reds focusing their attentions on Southampton’s Adam Lallana, per Ben Smith of BBC Sport, United could swoop for the player. If United were to make a move for the 24-year-old, they could also face competition from Arsenal, Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain, according to Jolly’s piece.
Here’s a taster of what all the fuss is about when it comes to this prodigious talent:
On the face of it, signing another attacking midfield player may seem a little misguided for Manchester United, especially when they have plenty of options in that particular position. But Konoplyanka is a player who would certainly bring some variety to the Red Devils’ attacking forays.
Former United winger Andrei Kanchelskis thinks he would be an excellent purchase, per Stuart Mathieson of the Manchester Evening News:
If you are looking for a quick winger then Konoplyanka is not that. He isn’t as quick as I was! He isn’t like a Ryan Giggs or Lee Sharpe who played with me at United.
He is not a real winger as such and I don’t think there are many of those around Europe at the moment. But he is technically very good, he has good skills and he has a good shot on him. He likes to come more into the central midfield areas and does like to get a hit on goal.
To me he is like Arjen Robben. He is similar to him and if that is the kind of player Louis van Gaal likes then why not go for Konoplyanka?
Not only is he intricate and accurate on the ball, but the Ukrainian international combines those qualities with a blistering turn of pace and an eye for goal, too. For an outlay of £12 million—just one-tenth of the reported £200 million available to Van Gaal, per Richard Tanner of Express—it’d be a no-brainer for United.
Konoplyanka is still young, still learning and a talent who brings some much-needed zeal to this team. At Old Trafford, working with Van Gaal and a host of top-quality players, he’s only going to get better.