Marouane Fellaini clings to Manchester United dream as Napoli offer an escape route from vitriolic fans

The 26-year-old is seen as a totem of the disastrous David Moyes tenure at Old Trafford

football correspondent

Marouane Fellaini is desperate to stay and fight to resurrect his career at Manchester United, despite vitriol which included ironic cheering each time he touched the ball during the club’s 2-1 pre-season win over Valencia on Tuesday, and will only give up on Old Trafford if manager Louis van Gaal says he is surplus to requirements.

Van Gaal, meanwhile, may wish to expedite his attempts to sign a left-back as back up for £27m Luke Shaw after the former Southampton man was ruled out for up to a month with a hamstring strain.

The Independent understands that Fellaini’s move to United was of bigger significance than has been widely appreciated, both to the player and his family, some of whom openly wept when they learnt he had signed for one of the biggest clubs in world football.

The 26-year-old has struggled to establish himself since – although he scored the decisive goal against Valencia – and was seen as a totem of the disastrous David Moyes tenure. But the ready-made escape route that Rafael Benitez’s Napoli are offering is one Fellaini is not yet ready to commit himself to, because he considers the move to United the fulfilment of a lifetime’s ambition.

Napoli have reason to believe they are Fellaini’s top option if Van Gaal indicates he has no chance of a United future. The Italian side want to tie up the proposed loan move, as they would like to have Fellaini in place for their Champions League qualifier against Athletic Bilbao on 19 and 27 August. But it remains a waiting game.

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The type of loan deal which the Serie A side are seeking tends to come at the end of the transfer window, by which time United will know their playing resources for the first half of 2014-15. Napoli are yet to make the first move by making an official request to take the Belgian.

A loan deal to take Liverpool’s Lucas Leiva to Napoli is also proving less than straightforward, with the Brazilian believing there are conflicting messages from manager Brendan Rodgers about whether he is wanted at Anfield. He has privately resigned himself to the fact that his seven-year career on Merseyside is over. But the decisive moment would be Liverpool’s purchase of another midfielder, with targets still under consideration. Napoli would take both Leiva and Fellaini on loan, if opportunities open up.

Another potential departure from Merseyside to Serie A is Liverpool’s Uruguay defender Seb Coates. Sampdoria are interested in taking him as a replacement for the former Evertonian Shkodran Mustafi, who has joined Valencia.

 

United were pursuing the Sporting Lisbon defender Marcos Rojo as a back-up to Shaw even before he picked up his injury in training. But they remain pessimistic about the chances of securing Real Madrid’s Angel di Maria, despite a declaration from Paris Saint-Germain – a prime competitor for his services – that they cannot afford him.

United have had an interest in Di Maria all summer and have been aware of his availability but they do not appear any closer to bringing him in. Ajax also say they have received no communication from United about their Dutch defender Daley Blind.

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