Manchester United’s out-of-favour midfielder Marouane Fellaini has promised to fight for his place despite falling out of favour at Old Trafford after surviving the chop during a summer of turnover at the club.
Fellaini arrived at the club last summer in a £27m move that has so far failed to pay off. The Belgium international was close to a move to Napoli this summer, and when reports emerged claiming Louis van Gaal was ready to offload the failing midfielder, his brief time at United appeared to be up.
However, Fellaini remained at the club beyond the transfer deadline and has now set his sights on forcing his way into a side that does lack quality in the heart of the midfield.
“I want to fight for my place,” said Fellaini. “The coach wants to play with the 11 players who make the best team. I want to be part of that.
The 13 players that have left Manchester United under Louis van Gaal
The 13 players that have left Manchester United under Louis van Gaal
1/13 Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund £6.3m)
The Japanese midfielder arrived at Old Trafford amid a sea of hope and expectation, but his time at Old Trafford will sadly be remembered as a failure. Kagawa established himself as one of the standout attacking midfielders in European football, helping Borussia Dortmund to consecutive Bundesliga titles between 2010 and 2012 before United came calling. Sir Alex Ferguson seemed uncertain on where Kagawa’s best position was, alternating him between his favoured central role and playing as a left-sided winger where he was largely anonymous. His torrid time in the Premier League came to an end on Sunday, as Dortmund took him back for around £10m less than they received two years ago.
2/13 Alexander Buttner (Dinamo Moscow, £5.6m)
Just when Buttner put in his best performance for United, he found himself out the door. His showing against Bayern Munich last season was arguably his finest in the red of United, and with Patrice Evra nearing the end of his contract, there was talk that the Dutchman could push on for a regular starting spot. However, Van Gaal’s arrival signalled the end of his two-year stay with United, as he clearly signalled his intention not to play under the former Netherlands manager that overlooked him for the World Cup.
3/13 Patrice Evra (Juventus, £2.5m)
Evra unusually agreed a one-year contract extension just over a month before his contract ran out only to leave the club two months later. The veteran left-back signed a new deal to keep him with the club until 2015, and looked to be in Van Gaal’s plans to help develop new signing Luke Shaw. That was until Italian champion Juventus lodged a £2.5m offer, and United decided to cash in on the Frenchman after eight years of loyal service.
4/13 Bebe (Benfica, £2.4m)
One of Sir Alex Ferguson’s biggest mistakes finally left United this summer after a dismal time in Manchester. Bebe arrived at United in 2010 for a rather worrying £7m even though Ferguson had never seen him play, and he quickly showed that he did not have the skills to cut it at Old Trafford. Just two appearances and three loan spells later, Bebe was offloaded to Benfica for less than half of what United paid for him. The less said about Bebe, the better.
5/13 Rio Ferdinand (QPR, free)
While Ferdinand technically left the club before Van Gaal arrived, you have to believe that the incoming manager would’ve instructed the club to tie him down to a new contract should he feature in his plans. Having spent 12 long and successful years with the club, Ferdinand was on the move, which came as a surprise given that United had already bode farewell to another veteran defender in Nemanja Vidic. The former England captain agreed a free transfer to join up once more with Harry Redknapp after agreeing to join QPR, having worked together at West Ham at the start of Ferdinand’s career.
6/13 Angelo Henriquez (Dinamo Zagreb, loan)
Henriquez is yet to make his United debut despite joining the club two years ago, and at 20 years old the belief is that he may have missed the boat if he is to break into the side. Having been sent on loan to Wigan and Real Zaragoza, Henriguez will spend this season with Dinamo Zagreb, and the likelihood is that he won’t be part of Van Gaal’s plans in the future.
7/13 Nani (Sporting Lisbon, loan)
The great hope who was tasked with replacing Cristiano Ronaldo never really delivered on his promise, as he ranged between the occasionally sublime and the regularly frustrating during his many performances for United. He looked to be on his way out of the club two seasons ago, only for David Moyes to arrive and promptly reward him with a five-year contract that still has four years left to run. Despite the lengthy deal, Nani was offered to his former club Sporting Lisbon, and will spend the season back in his homeland in an attempt to find some form.
8/13 Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace, loan)
United were quick to sign the promising Zaha after he impressed with Crystal Palace, but he has never really been given a chance to stamp his claim for first team recognition. Moyes sent him out on loan to Cardiff for the second half of last season, and he has been allowed to return to South London for this campaign in an attempt to rediscover the form that saw many mark him out as an England star of the future.
9/13 Javier Hernandez (Real Madrid, loan)
The eternal super-sub has departed for the European champions to become, well, a super-sub. It’s highly unlikely that Hernandez will be able to usurp the likes of Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, and he looks likely to be used by Carlo Ancelotti as cover for the big-three alongside Jese Rodriguez once he returns from a long-term knee injury.
10/13 Tom Lawrence (Leicester, £1m)
The 20-year-old made his sole appearance for United at the end of last season after interim manager Ryan Giggs handed him his first Premier League start in the 3-1 win over Hull – he was later substituted for the United legend’s final appearance before retirement. Having spent loan spells with Carlisle United and Yeovil Town during the last year, he completed a £1m move to Premier League newcomers Leicester City on deadline day.
11/13 Danny Welbeck (Arsenal, £16m)
A somewhat surprise departure on the final day of the transfer window saw Welbeck head to Premier League rivals Arsenal for £16m in a deal that was not announced until nearly 1am this morning. Welbeck has always struggled to lock himself into the starting line-up under both Ferguson and Moyes, and while he has made three appearances under Van Gaal he did not start a league game for United under the Dutchman. Welbeck will hope a solid run in the Arsenal side in the absence of Olivier Giroud will help establish himself at his new club.
12/13 Nick Powell (Leicester, loan)
Powell joined United as a highly-rated teenager from Crewe Alexander tipped for a big future, and spent last season with Wigan where he impressed in the Championship. His reward is a chance to show he can cut it in the Premier League, and his addition to Leicester could be one of the loan signings of the summer if it pays off, such is his talent. While he may not feature in Van Gaal’s plans just yet, regulars at the King Power Stadium will be licking their lips in anticipation at seeing what he can offer to Nigel Pearson’s side.
13/13 Michael Keane (Burnley, loan)
Keane is another who has been rewarded for a long spell in the championship with a loan move to a Premier League side. He’s featured for Leicester, Derby and Blackburn in recent years having made just one appearance for United, and Burnley will hope he can help them to an unlikely Premier League survival given they are the bookies favourites to go down at the end of the season.
“I've had a meeting with the coach before the start of the season where he told me that there is a lot of competition in midfield. I told him that I wanted to compete with the other players for a place in the starting XI.
“Louis van Gaal is a good coach. We have a lot of team meetings and he analyses much - other teams, our own players at training, a lot. Everywhere he has been, he was successful.”
The problem for Fellaini though is that he will have to change his role in the team should he want to secure a regular starting berth given the quality of players that are currently ahead of him in the pecking order.
Video: Football preview
With Radamel Falcao arriving on a season-long loan, it appears Wayne Rooney could be shifted back to a No 10 role behind the Colombian and Robin van Persie, and that could result in Juan Mata having to make do with a place on the bench – something that led him to leave his former club Chelsea.
With the likes of Rooney, Mata and youngster Adnan Januzaj preferred in the advanced central role, Fellaini would need to show that he can fill one of the two holding positions in the centre-midfield, meaning he would need to out-perform Ander Herrera, Darren Fletcher, Daley Blind and Michael Carrick once the England international is fit again.
Blind looks set to be thrust into the United team for this Sunday’s Premier league fixture against Queens Park Rangers, where Van Gaal will be desperate to secure his first competitive victory since taking the reins at United.
Having lost on the opening day to Swansea City, United have only managed draws against Burnley and Sunderland as well as the embarrassing 4-0 defeat to MK Dons in the League Cup. Anything other than a win against QPR will see the unwelcome pressure on Van Gaal’s shoulders ramp up, and even if they manage to see off Rangers they will still be two points short of where the club were at the same point last season under David Moyes.
- More about:
- Manchester United