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Marouane Fellaini’s potential transfer to United and how Everton can soften the blow

May 10, 2013, 5:00 AM EDT

Liverpool v Everton - Premier League Getty Images

During the next press conference that David Moyes holds I’d love for the following question to be asked:

‘If the Glazer family offers to trigger Marouane Fellaini’s £23 million release clause, will you make him a Manchester United player?’

I’ve got to assume his answer would be ‘yes,’ primarily because £23 million is great value for a 25 year old, freakishly athletic, multi-tooled player who, whether deployed as a holding midfielder or a striker, is a nightmare for the opposition.

More: Marouane Fellaini’s £23 million release clause is a joke

Sir Alex Ferguson isn’t likely to disagree as the Belgian single-handedly tore apart Manchester United when the two clubs met last August, scoring the 57th minute game-winner. And the fact is, United need a player like Fellaini. While Michael Carrick has been brilliant this season, Tom Cleverley, Paul Scholes and Anderson have all underwhelmed. Fellaini’s presence next to Carrick would reduce the Englishman’s defensive load and free him up to do what he does best – provide pinpoint passes to generate the attack.

But what about Phil Jones, you ask?

The 21 year old has quality written all over him. But for me, it’s center-back quality. While he could deputize for Carrick and Fellaini in the pivot, the former Blackburn man needs to be groomed as the future leader of United’s back four. It’s a bit crowded back there at the moment, but Jones would blossom if inserted into a rotation alongside Johnny Evans, the oft-injured Nemandja Vidic and the soon-to-be-retired Rio Ferdinand.

As someone who follows Everton extremely close, however, I must be honest: I’m still in the dark as to whether or not Moyes is a fan of Fellaini’s character.

For Evertonians, the following quote will feel a bit like a kiss from your sister but it wasn’t a fortnight ago that Moyes had this to say about the Belgian: “[Fellaini] is a big part of our squad, and he is someone that we will be more than happy to see here again next year at Goodison.”

It was a nice comment, but fairly stale in nature. When asked whether Fellaini was equally adept at defending as he is attacking, the Scot replied: “He is a good player in either role and is capable of doing both,” Moyes explained. “I think, as he matures, he might grow into a deeper role, but currently he does give us a different attacking option and has scored quite a few goals.”

Now, perhaps this is just me trying to read between the lines, but it doesn’t feel like Moyes has a ton of love for the Belgian.

Hopefully I’m wrong because what a great story it would be for all parties involved if Fellaini went to Old Trafford: United would get a dominant player on the cheap, Fellaini would get to play in the Champions League, Moyes would be able to continue grooming the player who he spent the last 5 years turning into a man, and Everton . . . Well, what would Everton get out of this?


That sounds rather crappy, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s all Evertonians can hope for at this point. Allow me to elaborate.

In an ideal world Fellaini’s release clause would be £30-35 million but, because Everton failed to negotiate good value for their player, it’s not. So, we move on to the next best thing – hoping that Fellaini’s release clause is triggered by a club so far away that the Toffees never have to see that that luscious afro again. A place like, Makhachkala.

Ah, Russia. Perfect. Send the dude to Anzhi and be done with it.

The problem is, the chance of that happening is extremely slim. If anyone is triggering Fellaini’s release clause it’s going to be a club with expansive financial wherewithal and a heightened familiarity with Fellaini’s game. Meaning one of following three: United, Chelsea or Manchester City.

And it all comes down to who pulls the trigger quicker. The summer transfer window opens at midnight of the last day of the season – I suggest interested parties submit bids no later than 12:01 am.

But back to that karma thing.

Evertonians should favor Marouane Fellaini’s move to United because recent history has established a healthy pipeline between the two clubs. It began with the sale of Wayne Rooney to Old Trafford in 2004. Then in 2005, United sent Phil Neville to Goodison and in 2006, it was Tim Howard who made the switch. In 2008, United moved Louis Saha to Merseyside and in 2012 Darron Gibson changed kits.

That’s some strong pipe. And you better believe it grew much stronger yesterday when Moyes signed with United, which, notably, was at the end of his contract meaning United didn’t owe a dime in the form of a transfer fee.

So if the Everton board has an ounce of business savvy – and the jury is still out on that one – it will sit down and negotiate with United the intricacies of the Fellaini deal. Specifically, I suggest Everton calmly remind United of the sweet deal they’re getting and request (as a nice gesture to the pipeline) a right of first refusal on all of the Red Devils’ out-going transfers and loans for the next three years.

Of course, United would never owe such terms as there’s no additional consideration being tendered by Everton, but one would hope that good faith (in the name of the pipeline) would play a roll and United would at least consider it.

Again, not a huge victory for Everton but at least the Toffees get something out of the deal. Then, when guys like Nani and Anderson come up for sale or Alexander Buttner and Nick Powell are sent out on loan, Everton would have first dibs and the option of strengthening the club.

Bottom line, come the last day of the season, Marouane Fellaini is walking out that door.

Everton best do what they can to soften the blow.

  1. billobrienschindimple - May 10, 2013 at 8:34 AM

    I have always wondered why the articles on here in regards to Liverpool always had a bit of a negative slant and a condescending tone.

    The answer appears here, Everton supporter.

    • Mike Prindiville - May 10, 2013 at 10:12 AM

      Yep, I’m an Everton supporter.

      But truthfully, I possess zero ill will towards Liverpool or any Premier League club. I’m basically just a Premier League romantic who keeps a keen eye on Everton.

      As far as Liverpool goes I think Stevie G is a legend, Suarez is one of the best strikers on earth (and unfairly treated by the media), and that FSG are very lucky owners. Unfortunately for the Reds, there hasn’t been a ton of good news coming out of Anfield lately. I’m pretty sure that will change in the summer transfer market – should make for some good writing.

      • jessedinner - May 10, 2013 at 2:13 PM

        Sir Rubio hates on Liverpool and Arsenal but for some reason gives love to Manchester United.

  2. adamthemanc - May 10, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    Hi Mike, just out of curiosity, are you a sports journalist by profession?… If so, do you get paid for writing articles with NBC Sports Talk?
    The reason i’m asking, i would love to become a sports journalist, but unfortunately have no qualifications or experience in that area, other than having very good literacy skills and great ideas on what to talk about!

    With great knowledge of football (of the English variety) & Formula 1, but also very keen on US baseball, US football, darts, rugby league & MotoGP, although i’m quite happy to watch any sport, but to be paid for writing about it would be a veritable dream come true!

    I much appreciate your time and any information you can share!
    Thanks, Adam.

    p.s. Fellaini would be a fantastic acquisition for United, he is very much cut from the Patrick Vieira cloth, big, strong, good engine, great header, scores goals, a commanding presence.

    Though i do believe United will have to offload at least 2 midfielders to assure Fellaini that he will be a first team regular (idealy one of them being Anderson), but with Scholes and Giggs very much approaching retirement, Fletcher possibly hanging up his boots, it would be an extremely shrewd move for all involved!

    In an ideal world (well, MY world), i’d sell Anderson, Valencia, Young, Ferdinand, Evra & Rooney… With the subsequent transfer funds and available wages, buy Gareth Bale, bring back CR7, fill Evra’s position with Baines (a move influenced by Moyes) and finally lure Andrea Pirlo to Old Trafford (who i believe is one of the best creative midfielders in the world).
    Making my dream United starting 11, in a 4:3:2:1 formation, as follows

    De gea
    Rafael, Vidic, Evans, Baines
    Carrick, Fellaini, Pirlo
    Ronaldo, Bale

    When attacking down the wings with Rafael or Baines, Fellaini will slot into defence, making it an attacking formation of 3:4:3

    With a defensive stance of 4:5:1 if need be.
    Of course i’m no manager, but in my head this squad would decimate any other team in their path!

    Apologies for such a long message and well done for trolling through it all!
    Many Thanks!

    • Mike Prindiville - May 10, 2013 at 12:10 PM

      Haha, love the spirit, Adam.

      That’s quite a squad you’ve put together! Having Bale and Ronaldo in the same side would be a nightmare for defenses, although they tend to play in similar areas of the pitch so it’d be interesting to see how that would work out (I’m sure somehow it would).

      I love Pirlo and the idea of him coming to United and agree on most of your sales except Valencia (a highly underrated player in my book) and Evra (mainly bc I don’t want them buying Baines haha). I also agree that Fellaini is Vieira-esque, one might even say Yaya Toure-esque.

      Send me a direct message over Twitter (@mprindi) and we can exchange emails and discuss your questions regarding writing.


  3. drewvt6 - May 10, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    Where does Kagawa fall in this log-jam then? Send him back to Dortmund in a Lewandowski swap?

  4. adamthemanc - May 10, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    Thanks for getting back to me Mike.
    As of yet, i don’t have a Twitter account, but have been meaning to create a profile for a while now.
    No time like the present, as the saying goes.
    I shall get to it “tout de suite”
    Much appreciated

  5. adamthemanc - May 10, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    Hi Drew
    To be honest, i have no real clue why SAF brought Kagawa to Utd in the first place.
    Apart from 2 or 3 decent games, he hasn’t exactly set the Premier league alight.
    In fact watching him throughout most games, he is slightly prone to giving the ball away and he doesn’t have the strength to handle a midfield role in the English league.

    He would seem to be another Ji Sung Park… Not very influencial, but a good work rate.

    His wage isn’t astronomical, so personally i’d hang on to him for another season or two.
    As with all teams contesting multiple competitions (usually to the latter stages as United do), they do need strength in depth & a larger squad than most, so Kagawa would get plenty chances, similarly with Cleverly, Chicharito, Jones, Smalling, Welbeck etc.

    • jessedinner - May 10, 2013 at 2:14 PM

      Um Shingi is nothing like Ji Sung Park

  6. adamthemanc - May 10, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    Just made a twitter account, i’m following you, @MrWilks73

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