OK, not ‘perfect’ perfect, like signing Lionel Messi would be, but pretty darn great. I'm actually a season ticket holder at Everton so I have watched Fellaini play regularly now for almost 5 years and seen him in attacking midfield and defensive midfield a lot. Having seen this I can come to the conclusion that he is best, as he himself says, as a defensive midfielder.
And this is why he's the ideal signing for Arsenal. Arsenal have been screaming from the rooftops for years now for a commanding, strong, defensive aware midfield player to truly replace Patrick Vieira. Gilberto held the fort for a brief time but his time was shortly up, Flamini did it successfully for a year but unfortunately made a smart career move and since then it hasn’t really been filled. Alex Song has occasionally looked the part but wasn’t in Vieira’s league and lacked the discipline to be the chosen one.
Fellaini is strong, dominating, technically good and a good passer, goal scorer and breaker up of play. He has experience in the Premier League and in Europe. As I said, I’ve watched him regularly for a few years and basically when he plays in centre midfield in a holding role, he bosses the midfield. ‘Thou shall not pass’ seems to be his motto when he plays in that position. His physical strength and reading off the game is top quality and it’s very rare he’s beaten or overshadowed in midfield.
He gets forward well as well so you could argue it’d be somewhat of a waste to play him in a defensive midfield position with very little license to get forward. He isn’t just some big tackling lump; he distributes the ball well, makes effective runs and has a real eye for a goal. I imagine him alongside Jack Wilshere in Arsenal’s centre midfield, being the primary ‘sitter’ but also having a license to get forward every now and then. I think that’d be his best position.
Where I am critical of him is his lack of discipline at times. He does get overly aggressive and tends to throw the occasional head-butt and elbow. A great game to sum him up was when we played Everton at home in April. For the first 15 minutes he looked like his head wasn’t screwed on, he was overly aggressive and lacking in calmness. But after that he got his head on and had a great game, he bossed the midfield and was a strong candidate for man of the match. Perhaps all he needs a bit of discipline drilled into him.
Overall I’d say Fellaini would be the ideal signing for Arsenal. He’d be a great fit on our midfield alongside the likes of Cazorla, Wilshere and Arteta. He’d give our midfield the necessary dose of ‘beefing up’ it needs and would be the sort of signing that would make us bigger candidates for the title. Certainly worth the £22 million being reported.
Mean Lean's Response
Thank you for the article Tom and I didn't know you were a regular visitor at Goodison park, very interesting. I have to start off by saying that I both agree and disagree with your article in various ways. Firstly I don't believe that we are desperately in need of a fix in that area of the pitch.
Looking back at last season I would say that it was the first time in a while that we defended very well through our midfield. There may have been a lack of balance when Jack Wilshere was playing as our box to box midfielder but I thought Mikel Arteta was pretty consistent throughout the campaign. When Aaron Ramsey came in alongside him post Tottenham at White Hart Lane we conceded one goal in open play against Reading in the remainder of the season which is extraordinary. Our defensive midfield played a massive part in that.
That said I think we are lacking depth, at least trusted depth in that position so I agree that we need another body in that position, I just do not agree that it was an area that would have elevated us any further last season.
Where I also agree with you is that Fellaini is a top player and has wonderful strengths, although as a defensive midfielder he wouldn't be the typical Arsene type given that Arteta has been given so much responsibility to keep the ball moving and pick up the ball in tight areas but Fellaini's versatility would be great for us. He has played in each of the three central midfield positions. Scores goals in the air, defends well in the air, strong and is a winner.
I think it is possible that we could well be interested as there has been a few little clues. Firstly after the story came out about us agreeing to his buyout clause, David Ornstein from the BBC who gets his information from contacts at Arsenal tweeted that we had no interest in Rooney or Cesar but only said that we hadn't met Fellaini's buyout, he didn't say that we were not interested.
Last night Ivan Gazidis also hinted that deals hadn't been made due to clubs settling down with new management or not yet having a new manager. Not only this but we were apparently interested in Fellaini before we signed Arteta. Given that Abou Diaby who is our only power from midfield is crocked, it would solve that option whether that be short term or longer term.
I've probably got an over active imagination but there you go.
Photoshop image by @Lagvilava7