Transfers – Arsenal FC have reportedly activated the release clause in the contract of Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini.
The Belgium international has perhaps had his best season in Everton colours last time around. Fellaini, who was deployed a more attacking role, scored 11 goals and made five assists in the league for the Merseyside club. His best performance last season, came in the match against Manchester United at the start of the season, where he almost singled-handedly bullied United defense and midfield. These performances haven’t gone unnoticed and both Chelsea and Manchester United were linked with a move for the 25-year-old midfielder.
But according to latest reports in England (first reported by Times), Arsenal have entered the race for his signature and the London club has already activated the release clause in Fellaini’s contract with a bid earlier in the week. The Belgium international is believed to have a £22 million release clause in his contract, for clubs participating in the Champions League.
Arsenal do have a big transfer budget this time around and Arsene Wenger is expected to flex his muscles in the transfer market this summer. A host of players have already been linked with the Gunners. If Arsenal are able to beat the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea to the signature of Fellaini, it will be a big statement of intent from the London club. But one thing that does remains as a question is where will Fellaini fit into this Arsenal side.
The midfielder was largely used as a second striker, or in the hold behind a front-man, by David Moyes last season. It suited Everton because they had a big target to hit upfront with their long-balls from the back. But Arsenal are not known to play long-balls upfront, and moreover, he is unlikely to play as an attacking midfielder with the likes of Cazorla, Rosicky and Wilshere in the squad. Fellaini, if signed by Arsenal, will most probably play as a defensive midfielder, or as a box-to-box midfielder alongside Arteta. The Everton man has played in that role early on in his career and is versatile enough to do it again. In fact back in December, Fellaini stated that he is more comfortable playing as a defensive midfielder.
“I think I am a defensive midfielder.
“But the manager thinks I can play number 10, number eight, number six, so I play wherever he wants and I give my maximum.
“I prefer defensive midfielder because I know my job when I play there. More things are in front of you. It is difficult to play with your back to goal. It is not my position but the manager likes me there and I am happy to do it.
“I don’t have a goal target. Now I have more chances to score because I play in front but scoring is not my obsession.” – The Arsenal target was quoted in press.
Reports suggest that Arsenal made the £22 million bid for Fellaini on the day Roberto Martinez was appointed as the new manager by Everton. Everton Chairman Bill Kenwright has stated in a recent interview that he and Roberto Martinez did discuss about the future of the present squad memebers, and he said that Fellaini is perhaps the only player who can leave as he has a release clause in his contract.
“He talked about a couple of new signings and he talked about the squad and asked ‘Do they need to go?’
“I said ‘No, they absolutely do not have to go’ (although) there is one (Fellaini) that has a get-out, which everyone knows.” – The Everton Chairman said.
Even the punters are now backing Arsenal to land the big Belgium midfielder. Sky Bet have significantly slashed the odds on Fellaini joining Arsenal. Sky Bet football trader Chris Spicer said that although Fellaini and Arsenal doesn’t look like a match made in heaven, they are now the favourites according to the experts.
“Arsenal have been backed to sign various different players over the summer as Arsene Wenger looks to make use of a healthy transfer kitty.
“But it was somewhat of a surprise to see such significant stakes on them to sign Fellaini.
“The towering midfielder does not seem to fit in with their footballing ethos but our punters certainly seem convinced a deal could happen.” – Spicer said.
So Arsenal fans might be close to celebrating their first big signing this summer – whether he is the man that Arsenal needs right now is a debate for another day.