Why would Arsenal sign Marouane Fellaini?
By Joe Harker
Yes, you read that right. Arsenal have held talks to sign Marouane Fellaini on a free transfer. He's out of contract at Manchester United and unlikely to sign a new deal, so it's on to another club for the Belgian midfielder. Linked for a long time with a switch to AC Milan, Fellaini could instead be Arsenal-bound.
New Gunners manager Unai Emery is an admirer of the player and tried to sign him for PSG. It may look like a supremely strange signing considering Fellaini is a big, physical player who would likely never have been within a country mile of the team when Arsene Wenger was in charge, but there could be method to the madness.
The Times suggests that Arsenal are trying to bring in older, more experienced players to add some leadership to the dressing room. Stephan Lichtsteiner could be signed on a free transfer while Sokratis Papastathopoulos is linked with a transfer. Arsenal haven't got a large budget to work with so going after players on a free transfer is a strategy that makes sense this summer.
ESPN argues that a move for Fellaini would make little sense for Arsenal. January signings Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan will both be 29 by the start of next season while Fellaini is 30, Lichtsteiner is 34 and Sokratis turns 30 today. There's nothing wrong with going for experienced players but Arsenal could be filling their squad with a group who would be getting old at the same time. The squad needs rejuvenating and signing a glut of older players may not be the solution.
Gunners fans think a move for Fellaini might signal the end of Jack Wilshere's time at The Emirates. The England midfielder's contract expires at the end of the month and with no renewal at this point it looks increasingly likely that he could be leaving for free. If Arsenal haven't sorted a new deal for him now and are looking for other midfielders to sign that could be the end of Wilshere.
To some who support Arsenal, the club signing Fellaini would only be accepted "in a specific context". Plenty of fans would be "dismayed" to see their club pursuing Fellaini but if he was being targeted as a back up option to mostly sit on the bench and bring a bit of experience it might be a more palpable pill to swallow.
United manager Jose Mourinho has said he wants Fellaini to stay at Old Trafford, but most supporters would be happy to see him leave. Some are amused that over the past few years they have signed Robin Van Persie and Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal while selling them Danny Welbeck and Mkhitaryan, while others are pleased that United seem to be fine with the player leaving. In a transfer window where they need to catch up with Manchester City, begging Fellaini to sign a new contract should not be high on the priority list.