Nobody is saying that Marouane Fellaini (6.8m) was a bad player last season. Nobody is even saying that he was an average player; the towering Belgian has been a good, consistent player at Everton for a couple of years now. But his opening two games of this campaign have been mesmerising, he is a man transformed. Tantalising to watch and yet terrifying to play against.
Perhaps bolstered by Everton’s buoyant 7th place finish last season, trumping Liverpool for the first time in a long while, Fellaini has been handed an attacking freedom that we seldom saw last year. Everton’s manager, David Moyes, has long been lauded as the Baron of Budgets, the Thain of Thriftiness and not so far from the best manager in English football relative to his spending power. With steals like Jelavic, £5m from Rangers, Tim Howard’s £3m tag and Pienaar’s stunning return at only £4.5m; it’s easy to see why Moyes commands the respect that he does.
So when Moyes signed Fellaini, aged only 21, for a club record of £15 million from Standard Liege; eyebrows were definitely raised. What had Moyes seen in this young, hulking midfielder that warranted such a King’s ransom? Well it wasn’t his attitude, Fellaini was booked 10 times in his first 17 games and had to attend a personal hearing, in which he vowed to improve his behaviour. He came to Everton as a defensive midfielder and besides being deployed as a second striker to cover for injuries; he played in the holding role the majority of the time.
Did Moyes know that he was destined for another position?
With the loss of star attacking midfielder Tim Cahill to the New York Red Bulls, Fellaini has been moved ahead of his fellow midfielders into ‘the hole.’ Fellaini has embraced this role in a big 6 ft 4in bear hug and made it his own, these past two games. Never have I seen a man chest a ball so many times, the way he brings a high ball to his feet is unrivalled by any in the Premier League. He had caused Manchester United a whole host of problems and eventually fired home the header which put the Red Devils out of the game. And for once, nobody was surprised to see it coming.
Then, the blue half of Merseyside made the trip to Villa Park and Fellaini controlled the pitch for a second time. Chest after chest after chest brought him into attacking positions and inevitably Fellaini got his head onto a whipped cross, leaving Shay Given dumbfounded. The Belgian has risen in price over both weeks of the opening season in Fantasy Football, and there’s no reason to expect him to stop going up soon. I’d snap him up whilst you can still afford it.
Which other tall defensive midfielder is known for surging bursts forwards and more than a few goals? Well Fellaini isn’t from the Ivory Coast, but he’ll soon be tickling the same 8.0m price tag that his opposite number at Manchester City does. A definite buyer’s market.
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Image Credit: Flickr – EA Sports Fifa