So the Mirror has reported that Roman Abramovich has targeted Everton’s in-form midfielder Marouane Fellaini; the latest in a long line of prospective candidates to be linked with a move to Stamford Bridge.
It is reported that the ambitious Russian billionaire is planning an audacious £22 million move for the Belgian, with a view to securing his services before the beginning of next season. Should Di Matteo be installed, as is widely expected, as the new full-time manager of The Blues then Ambramovich will look to provide the Italian with the means to bring in new blood to the side.
The Pensioners have already signalled their intent to mount a strong challenge next season with the signing of German winger Marko Marin, an acquisition that has been confirmed by the club’s official website.
But would Everton be willing to let one of their most prized assets leave for the reported offer? I for one would certainly hope not.
Everton’s (seemingly annual) rapid climb up the Premier League table since the turn of the year, can be attributed to the impressive form of number of players at the club. Phil Jagielka’s injury has given Johnny Heitinga an extended run in the starting XI and allowed him to establish himself as Everton’s most consistent defender in 2012, if not the most consistent player.
In addition there is the PFA’s left back of the season, Leighton Baines, who has again had an outstanding campaign and re-kindled the exciting partnership alongside returning loan-star Steven Pienaar, long-term servant Leon Osman and of course the goal-scoring revelation that is Nikica Jelavic. But the stand out performer this season has been the crazy-haired midfielder, Marouane Fellaini.
When Moyes brought Fellaini to Merseyside from Belgian outfit Standard Liege in 2008, some questioned the hefty expenditure, given Everton’s financial difficulties; it was certainly an atypical move by both the club and manager. Admittedly, despite a hanful of displays that indicated the potential of the young Belgian, Fellaini did have a testing first season and found it difficult to settle into the pace and demands of Europe’s toughest league.
However, in the past two seasons, Fellaini’s stature has grown and he has emerged as one of the Blues best and most reliable players, producing outstanding performances in a variety of roles, including defensive or attacking midfield and even when he has been deployed in a forward role when required.
At 6ft 5, Fellaini’s height often plays to his advantage – effectively making aerial challenges in both defensive and attacking situations. However, despite his obvious lofty and ungainly appearance, he possesses both the poise and nimble footwork one would expect from a more compact footballer. His touch and exceptional control inevitably lead him to become the focal point of many of Everton’s attacking moves.
Perhaps the greatest aspect of the 24 year old’s play however is his uncanny ability to read the game; this skill aids both the player and team alike, enabling him to break up play, sensing danger before it has occured and therefore expertly protecting the back four as well as making telling passes in forward positions.
Something that has clearly portrayed with his neatly threaded pass to Pienaar for the little South African’s equaliser against United demonstrates. As previously mentioned, Fellaini’s height makes him a handful for opposing defences at set-pieces but he has added goals to his impressive all round display this season; notably a brilliantly taken volley in the epic 4-4 draw with Manchester United in April.
Predictably though, due to his outstanding form this season, speculation has started to surround the 24 year old concerning possible moves away from Goodison Park. Despite some outstanding performances Fellaini delivered in the 2010/2011 season, the lanky midfielder escaped the attention of a press eager to capitalise on the emergence of a young English prospect, Jack Rodwell, who became the main subject of transfer rumours in the British media.
However through a combination of lack of opportunity caused by persistent injury and the resulting inconsistency of the young England international, Fellaini has been accumulating the plaudits he deserves. And with these plaudits, unfortunately for Everton fans, has come increased media interest in Marouane and his future with the Toffees.
If I was Everton manager (one can dream) come the summer, I would try my very best to keep Marouane at the club; he is part of the future and we should attempt to build around the colossol midfielder, not let another club gain the benefit of his footballing ability. On the other hand I do realise the financial difficulties surrounding the club and, at the risk of causing some controversy amongst the supporters, if the figures being mentioned at the time from prospective buyers could be realised, we should cash in on Jack Rodwell.
Rodwell has been linked with a number of top Premier League clubs, including Chelsea and Manchester United, and should Moyes decide to cash in on the young talent, being both young and English, he should command a hefty transfer fee. Well, at least something close to the amount we received for Wayne Rooney back in 2004. Although undoubtedly a loss to the club, Rodwell’s departure would open up the possibility of bringing in fresh faces into the club to strengthen the team in areas where at the moment Everton are lacking depth i.e. the right-side of midfield and a strike partner for Jelavic.
There are rumours that Phil Neville may be offered some sort of position in the England set-up in the wake of the appointment of Roy Hodgson as manager. Neither Neville or for that matter Hibbert are getting any younger and Coleman seems to have stalled in his progression so the right-back position might also need looking at.
Fellaini and Gibson have developed a good understanding in these past few months and Gibson’s disciplined defensive attributes have allowed the Fellaini more freedom to join Everton’s attack on a more regular basis.
Fellaini has become too important to the side in their quest for European football and it would be a step back if Moyes were to let him go now. Hands off Ambramovich!