Updates from Wednesday, Aug. 20
Marouane Fellaini's anticipated loan switch to Napoli may well have been dashed by a foot injury for the Manchester United midfielder.
Marouane Fellaini has been pictured heading into hospital with his foot in a protective boot - hampering his chances of securing a move away from Manchester United.
The Sun shows the midfielder arriving at Bridgwater hospital on crutches and reports that the 26-year-old picked up the injury during training.
[...] The Sun adds that selling Fellaini could be delayed until January as "his hopes of passing a medical now look slim".
101 Great Goals provides the Sun's image of Fellaini on crutches:
Updates from Tuesday, Aug. 19
Marouane Fellaini is nearing a loan move to Napoli, according to Gary Jones of the Daily Star.
The Manchester United flop does not appear to be a major part of Louis van Gaal's plans, and Jones reports:
Reports in Italy the Serie A side have agreed United's demands and are set to pay £4m to secure Fellaini for the entirety of the season.
Napoli boss Rafael Benitez was reluctant to spend so much on a temporary deal for the 26-year-old, but the closing window may have convinced the former Liverpool chief to close the deal.
Updates from Thursday, Aug. 7
Rafael Benitez insists it is Napoli, not Manchester United or Louis van Gaal, who will decide whether Marouane Fellaini joins the Serie A giants.
Quoted by Enrico Passarella of gianlucadimarzio.com, Benitez said:
(Javier) Mascherano? It didn’t depend on the coach but on the project and the same will happen for Fellaini: it’s not related to Van Gaal. Did we negotiate six midfielders? I’ve five midfielders here. A headline on Fellaini? He’s still the story of the project…
Updates from Tuesday, Aug. 5
Rafael Benitez has fuelled belief that Marouane Fellaini could well be a Napoli target this summer, but confessed the Italians require quick squad additions ahead of their Champions League qualifier.
Speaking ahead of Napoli's friendly with Barcelona, Benitez said, per Enrico Passarella of gianlucadimarzio.com:
Could Fellaini join Napoli? I prefer to talk about the players I have at my disposal, I work on the ones I have. Fellaini is a Manchester United player, it doesn’t depend on us. We look for players who have more quality than ours, we are a bit in a hurry because of the Champions League playoff. I’m insisting with the president, we’ll see…
Updates from Friday, Aug. 1
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has confirmed the club's interest in Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini.
He told Kiss Kiss radio station, per the Daily Mirror's Jack Lang:
Fellaini is one of the names on the table, but not the only one.
They (Fellaini an Gokhan Inler) would make a nice pair. Fellaini has long hair, and the Swiss (Inler) is shaven.
Together they have a hairstyle that looks like a lion's mane!
A deal remains some way off though, according to respected Belgian reporter Kristof Terreur, who claims talks between Napoli and the player have not yet opened:
Marouane Fellaini's people don't deny Napoli's interest, but insist they haven't opened negotiations with the Italians. #MUFC— Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) August 1, 2014
Updates from Thursday, July 31
Marouane Fellaini will hold talks with Louis van Gaal to determine his future when the Manchester United squad returns home from their US tour.
Gianluca Di Marzio, via David Amoyal, has the latest amid talk of a move to Napoli:
Napoli is waiting for Van Gaal to return from the US tour so he can meet with Fellaini and get some clarity on his future. This will be a decisive development to understand if Napoli has a chance. After the weekend there should be some developments, Napoli is waiting and hoping.
Marouane Fellaini has reportedly met with Napoli officials ahead of a proposed move to Serie A, according to Italian press.
The Belgian midfielder, a figure who defines David Moyes' ill-fated Manchester United tenure, will be offloaded as part of Louis van Gaal's revolution, according to Corriere Dello Sport (translated by 101 Great Goals):
As to the terms of the proposed move, Manchester United are said to want to sell off Fellaini for as little as 19 million euros, whilst Napoli are angling to try sign the afro-haired star on loan before committing themselves to a permanent deal.
Another issue which the clubs need to work out is payment, or renegotiation, of Fellaini’s 3 million euro a season pay packet.
101 Great Goals also posted the Italian newspaper's spread on Twitter:
Fellaini is said to have met with Napoli officials on July 15, a meeting which allegedly took place at "the Sheraton Hotel near the Brussels International Airport in Zaventem." Despite consistent reports, Belgian journalist Kristof Terreur offers a conflicting view:
Marouane Fellaini's people formally deny the alleged negotations with Napoli in a Brussels' hotel. #MUFC— Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) July 29, 2014
Di Marzio indicates "a difficult negotiation" has United asking for €25 million (approximately £19.7 million).
Is it time for Manchester United to sell Marouane Fellaini?
Bought for £27.5 million last summer, such an agreement represents questionable long-term business, although many will be surprised to see such a fee gained for Fellaini's sale. He ran his value down with a string of poor performances during the 2013-14 campaign and never seemed to settle in central midfield.
Moyes' decision to continually deploy Fellaini as a shield for the defence was all the more surprising considering the Scottish boss effectively used the powerful player in an attacking role at Everton. At Goodison Park, Fellaini would sit just behind the striker, where he could easily nod possession on or initiate hold-up play before bombing into the box.
The 26-year-old made 12 starts and four substitute appearances in the Premier League last season, where he produced one assist, per WhoScored.com. Perhaps Fellaini's biggest impact came in the Champions League, where he was sent off against Real Sociedad.
Despite moments of quality—most of which involved breaking up play—his lack of technical skill slowed United's already dwindling possession under Moyes. There appears to be little room for the 26-year-old in Van Gaal's midfield, which has favoured fast-paced passing moves during the club's preseason tour of the US.
Former United player Danny Higginbotham believes the new manager's switch to 3-5-2 has invigorated the team:
Fellaini showed his qualities at the World Cup, but vitally, this came in a more advanced role. Marc Wilmots utilised the player's height effectively and saw him head home Belgium's opening goal of the campaign in the late win over Algeria. This may have scraped back some of his value and further outlines Fellaini's best position remains hovering around the final third.
Rafael Benitez may wish to use him just behind Gonzalo Higuain at Napoli, sitting in front of Valon Behrami and Gokhan Inler to make a midfield trio. It would be extremely surprising to see Fellaini predominantly used in the defensive role that has halted his career.
For United, his departure will only galvanise the need to add a battling midfielder to the squad. The club remains unbeaten in three preseason games under Van Gaal, having overcome Inter Milan on penalties during Wednesday's early-morning match, but certainly need to strengthen across the park.
Arturo Vidal continues to be linked with a move to the Theatre of Dreams, per the Daily Mail's Anthony Hay, but ESPN FC's John Brewin highlights a deal which is shaping up to be a familiar non-event:
Re: Vidal. Is this another case of Manchester United 'preparing a bid' but never actually putting one in? Shades of Cesc. Vidal for Chelsea?— John Brewin (@JohnBrewinESPN) July 29, 2014
Whether Vidal arrives or not, it may be best to push Fellaini's exit through.
He is almost symbolic of the failures experienced under Moyes and faces a difficult challenge to overcome his dismal reputation at the club. His sale would indicate the squad is totally ready to forget last season's terrible run, allowing United to search for an alternative without harming Fellaini's career any further.