Manchester United are reportedly close to offloading midfielder Marouane Fellaini to Italian side Napoli, but the Red Devils shouldn't give up on the Belgian international so soon.
The Partenopei chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis told Radio Kiss Kiss (h/t to Goal's Gill Clark) his club are interested in the powerful midfielder, although he mainly talked about the man's peculiar hairstyle:
Fellaini is one of the names of our midfield, but he's not the only one. His hairstyle could be perfect for the Neapolitan style. I like his 'lion-hair'. I have introduced [Gokhan] Inler like a lion, Fellaini could compensate for his lack of hair.
Fellaini's first season at Old Trafford was an incredible letdown, and new manager Louis van Gaal reportedly has no space in his plans for the Belgian international. According to Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t to Football-Italia), the expected transfer fee would be in the vicinity of £12.8 million.
If you know the Red Devils originally paid Everton £27.5 million to bring Fellaini to Manchester just 12 months ago, that's hardly any value. Particularly for a player who was thoroughly miss-managed during the 2013-14 season.
Yes, Fellaini struggled immensely for the Mancunians. You simply can't deny that. The team struggled as a whole during David Moyes' final season, but the 26-year-old often stood out as the worst player on the pitch.
He shone for Everton just the year before, however, and he put together an impressive 2014 World Cup campaign with the Belgian national team.
Fellaini didn't start the opening match against Algeria as coach Marc Wilmots emphasised his vision of only fielding players who were regular starters for their club, but coming off the bench, he provided the spark (and the first goal) that led to Belgium's comeback.
The midfielder started every match after that one, playing much further up the pitch than he normally did under Moyes. And herein lies the problem.
Fellaini isn't a holding midfielder. He's at his best when he gets to play as a battering ram, using his speed and physicality to move forward and bulldoze his way through the opposition. Finesse? The man has the finesse of a bull in a porcelain store.
Playing him in a defensive position is asking for trouble. He commits too many early fouls, gets carded easily and is forced to play the rest of the match with the hand-brake on. Playing cautious simply isn't in his nature, per WhoScored.com:
Fellaini needs to move forward on the pitch—asking him to protect a defense is asking him to change his game.
No, Fellaini likely won't be a starter in Van Gaal's new Manchester United squad. And there's nothing wrong with cutting your losses, trimming the dead weight from the squad and implementing a new vision.
But £12.8 million for a player who never even had the chance to show what he can do when he is used the right way? That's just horrible value. Fellaini can be a solid contributor on a high level—he showed it time and time again for Belgium.
Used effectively, Fellaini could be a big asset to United off the bench in 2014-15. In late-game situations where the club needs a break-through, the sight of the giant Belgian charging at a defence is just terrifying (the hair helps).
That's not to say the Red Devils shouldn't cash in on a player who figures to be little more than a bench contributor in the upcoming season. But selling him for less than half of what you invested a year ago isn't cashing in—it's bad business.
If the right offer comes along and the player wants to leave, nothing should stand in the way of a deal. But as long as interested clubs keep low-balling the Red Devils, Van Gaal might as well see what he has in the powerful midfielder instead of shipping him off before Fellaini ever got the chance to prove himself.