Marouane Fellaini has never been the most popular member of the playing staff at Manchester United among the club’s support but he has done nothing to endear himself to the Old Trafford fanbase with a bold interview in which he outlines the strong negotiating position he feels he has over a new contract.
With the Belgian’s current deal running out at the end of the season, he says one of the major reasons he feels he is well-placed to secure a new deal on his own terms is how expensive it would be to replace him.
Fellaini quoted 50 million euros as the price of replacing him if he is allowed to leave for free but one man already within the Old Trafford ranks may be able to offer the antidote; Andreas Pereira.
The 22-year-old Brazilian playmaker is highly thought of among the Reds’ fanbase and also has an admirer in Jose Mourinho, who tried to prevent him moving on loan to Valencia last summer in order to keep him around the club.
Pereira has not torn up any trees in La Liga but he has established himself as a regular starter in a side that has performed above expectations, looking set to return to the Champions League next season after a period of turmoil.
He may well want to play further forward, in a number 10 or wide role, but it is certainly possible that he could operate as one of three central midfielders, allowing Mourinho to absorb the loss of Fellaini at no cost.
It would also be a move that should see the former Real Madrid manager curry considerable favour among fans who are yet to be completely sold on his methods; trading in an unpopular, aging player who has now painted himself as arrogant for a younger, more creative one, who is much more in keeping with the club’s proud traditions would be a popular move.
Pereira is versatile, can beat a man and deliver quality from a dead ball situation. He would surely start at the bottom of the midfield pecking order but Scott McTominay has shown this season that youngsters willing to work hard and carry out Mourinho’s instructions can quickly rise through the ranks.
If Fellaini hopes to back United into a corner over a new deal by highlighting the cost of replacing him, in an overblown transfer market during a World Cup summer, Pereira could prove to be a left-field counter-balance Mourinho can reach for. It would certainly please the fans.