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Manchester United

New Marouane Fellaini contract is good business for Manchester United

The Belgian has extended his Old Trafford stay until 2020.

Martyn Cooke

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Fellaini
Photo: Getty Images

On Friday afternoon, Manchester United announced that Marouane Fellaini had signed a new two-year contract that will extend his stay at Old Trafford until the summer of 2020, with an option of an additional twelve months.

The Belgian midfielder had been widely expected to depart in the summer with his original contract set to expire at the end of June and a number of clubs across Europe, including Arsenal and AC Milan, were linked with a move.

However, the news that the 30-year-old is set to stay at Old Trafford for the foreseeable future was met with mixed emotions from supporters.

Fellaini joined United in the summer of 2013 in a £27.5 million deal from Everton following the appointment of David Moyes as Alex Ferguson’s successor.

The midfielder had been a central figure at Goodison Park and was renowned for his physicality, aerial threat and his knack of scoring important goals at vital times in matches.

Unfortunately, Fellaini had never been able to replicate that form at Old Trafford.

(Photo by Odd Andersen/Getty Images)

The Belgian has made over 150 appearances for United but has predominantly been used as an impact substitute or ‘Plan B’ during his time at the club.

His lack of technical ability has often left supporters frustrated when he has featured in the starting line-up and kept affluent players out of the team with many believing that he is simply not good enough.

However, Jose Mourinho is a big admirer of the 30-year-old and has petitioned hard to ensure that the player’s contractual demands were met by the club hierarchy.

In contrast to what many United supporters appear to think, the fact that Fellaini will remain at Old Trafford will actually be a significant boost for the club.

First, it is clear that that he will be a squad player at United this season.

Moruinho already has his preferred central midfield trio of Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba and new £52 million signing Fred in place whilst Andre Herrera will also be competing for a starting spot.

It is highly unlikely that Fellaini will be a regular feature in the starting eleven and his role will be that of an impact substitute or rotational squad player.

The 30-year-old suits that role perfectly. His height, physicality and aerial prowess adds something different to United’s attack and provides Mourinho with the perfect Plan B should the team need to play a more direct style of play.

(Photo by Jewel Samad/Getty Images)

Fellaini’s winning goal against Arsenal in August is the perfect example of how his introduction can turn a game on its head, as was his equaliser in Belgium’s victory over Japan yesterday evenng

Second, by signing a new contract the Belgian has effectively saved Mouirnho £30–40 million of his transfer budget.

If Fellaini had departed Old Trafford then United would have been forced to delve into the transfer market to find an adequate replacement.

Quality central midfield players do not come cheap and his new contract means that Mourinho can concentrate on investing money on other areas of the team instead.

Ultimately, the new contract has saved Mourinho and United an awful lot of money.

So, whilst some supporters may feel frustrated at the news that Fellaini will remain at Old Trafford, the move make sense on both a football and financial level.

The Belgian will contribute as the season progresses as an impact player and the money saved on not having to purchase a replacement could facilitate the arrival of a new big-name signing in another area of the team.

As long as Fellaini is used as an impact substitute or Plan B, United fans should be content with the fact that the 30-year-old is staying.

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.

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Manchester United

Three Manchester United youngsters to watch out for this season

There is a breadth of young talent available to Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford.

Martyn Cooke

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Manchester United
Photo: Getty Images

Manchester United have already made significant moves in the transfer market as Jose Mourinho continues to refine and remould his squad in preparation for the new campaign.

Brazilian midfielder Fred arrived in a £52 million deal from Shakhtar Donetsk last month whilst Portuguese full-back Diogo Dalot was signed from Porto for £19 million earlier in the summer. The high-profile duo have also been joined be veteran Stoke City goalkeeper Lee Grant, who has been brought in to act as experienced covered for David de Gea and Sergio Romero.

Mourinho is expected to make further additions before the start of the season but he should also consider casting a keen eye at some of the youngsters that have been making waves within the United academy over the previous two or three years.

Here are three youngsters that Manchester United supporters should keep an eye on this season.

(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

James Garner

Manchester United are currently blessed with an abundance of talented central midfielder players including Paul Pogba, the world’s most expensive footballer, new £52 million arrival Fred and experienced enforcer Nemanja Matic.

However, it is widely considered that James Garner will soon be listed among those prestigious names after the academy graduate made rapid progress over the previous twelve months. The 17-year-old only signed his first professional contract in May and he is set to tour with the first team during the pre-season preparations, putting him firmly on Jose Mourinho’s radar.

Garner is versatile central midfield player that is equally as adept playing in a holding position or in a more advanced role whilst he has also been utilised as a central defender during his spell in academy football. He is renowned for being a natural leader and is the current England under-17’s captain.

The midfielder was a central figure in the United youth team that won the Premier League North last season and he is being tipped to make his competitive first team debut in the coming year.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Axel Tuanzebe

Jose Mourinho has struggled to find a reliable central defensive partnership during his spell at Manchester United due to injuries and the sporadic form of some of his senior players.

However, in Axel Tuanzebe he might have a potential solution.

The 20-year-old is renowned for his power, strength and pace and has developed a well-earned reputation as being the most talented young central defender on Manchester United’s books. His ability to read the game is reminiscent of Rio Ferdinand whilst his physical presence is similar to that of Eric Bailey.

Tuanzebe has already made a handful of first team appearances since making his debut in January 2017 as a substitute in a four-goal victory against Wigan Athletic and he spent the second half of last season on loan with Aston Villa. He played only a scattering of games at Villa Park as they club reached the Championship play-offs but will return to Old Trafford better for the experience.

Mourinho has publicly praised the central defender in the past and appears to rate him highly – he may way emerge as a regular feature of the United team if he is able to capitalise on any opportunities he is provided.

(Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Angel Gomes

Manchester United’s modern history is filled with legendary players that were loved by supporters because of their pace, technical ability and creativity on the ball – in Angel Gomes the club appear to have someone that fits the mould perfectly.

The 17-year-old joined United’s academy at the age of six and has been hugely impressive throughout the formative years of his career.

He became the youngest player in over a decade to make his first team debut when he was used as a substitute in May 2017 at just 16 years and 263 days old in a late-season fixture against Crystal Palace, also becoming the first player born in the 2000’s to play in the Premier League.

Gomes can play anywhere across the three attacking midfield positions with his dribbling and innovative skill highlighting him from his peers. He is a somewhat diminutive figure but has the ability to dictate the pace and flow of a game with his intelligence, vision and impressive range of passing.

Since making his first team debut the 17-year-old has not featured for Mourinho’s side in a competitive fixture but he is being widely tipped to re-emerge and feature in the forthcoming year.

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Everton

Everton should consider Luke Shaw as Kieran Tierney alternative

Everton are moving closer to signing Leighton Baines’ long-term successor.

Liam Thomas

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Luke Shaw
Photo: Getty images

Everton are on the hunt for a long-term replacement for current left back Leighton Baines and have been hotly linked with a move for Celtic’s 21-year-old star Kieran Tierney.

According to The Daily Record, Everton are edging closer to securing Tierney’s services for a £25 million fee, but there has been no deal officially done yet, and Celtic are keen to keep hold of their top prospect.

There is, however, another left back option out there whose talent is undeniable and is an option Marco Silva and the Everton hierarchy should be exploring; Manchester United outcast Luke Shaw.

Shaw’s torrid time at Manchester United has been well documented, and 22-year-old defender hasn’t managed to hold down a regular position in Jose Mourinho’s starting XI since the Portuguese manager took over at Old Trafford in 2016.

It would be silly of Everton not to explore the opportunity of capturing Shaw’s signature.

The England international is only a year older than Tierney and already has a heap of Premier League experience; meaning he could come into the Toffees setup and hit the ground running, unlike Tierney who may need time to settle.

At 22 years of age, Shaw still has his best years ahead of him and this is something Everton are reportedly looking for in their search to replace their long-term left back Leighton Baines.

So why not take a punt on Shaw? If the pacey full-back could reproduce any of the form he showed playing for Southampton under Mauricio Pochettino he’d be an incredible purchase for the Toffees.

Considering his current relationship with Mourinho, Shaw would be the obvious choice of left-back to explore and would likely be available if Everton came calling for him, while prizing Tierney away from Celtic may be more hassle than it’s worth.

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Liverpool

As some Liverpool fans call for his signing, Shinji Kagawa could be an excellent addition

The Japanese international worked under Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund.

Mathew Nash

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Japan are out of the World Cup but they gained many a fan with their brave effort against Belgium last night. The Samurai Blue led 2-0 before goals from Jan Vertonghen, Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli helped the Red Devils to victory. But there were several incredible performances, including from Borussia Dortmund playmaker Shinji Kagawa.

He was exceptional in the middle of the park, linking the attack to defence masterfully in a performance which reminded people just why Manchester United once splashed out on his signature.

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

In fact, his performances at the World Cup overall have been fantastic. So much so, that some of the fans from United’s bitter rivals Liverpool are suggesting they make a move for the player:

The reasons why are clear. Jurgen Klopp is a big fan of Kagawa and first took him to European football with Borussia Dortmund. He got the best out of the player and was a truly massive fan of his. Back in 2013, with Kagawa out of the picture at United, Klopp told The Guardian it broke his heart to see and that it had put ‘tears in his eyes’. He also dubbed Kagawa ‘one of the best players in the world.’

Now, 29-year-old Kagawa is looking back to his best. He was one of Dortmund’s best players last season, before an ankle injury cut things short and under the guidance of his former boss Klopp he could be a star – which would be great to rub in Manchester United’s face.

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