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Mercato Madness: Marouane Fellaini loan from Manchester United rumored, but denied by Napoli

A rumor cropped up out of pretty much nowhere this morning that Napoli are pushing for a deal for Manchester United's Belgium international midfielder Marouane Fellaini.

Matthias Hangst

We talked about this a little bit earlier, but now the English media have picked up on the story as though it's, y'know, actually a thing, and they're refusing to shut up about it.


So after Riccardo Bigon made a stopover in Brussels en route to Germany earlier today, rumors exploded among Italian news and rumor sites that since Marouane Fellaini was vacationing in the Belgian city, Bigon had to be there to negotiate a deal with the Belgium international. The insistence was that Napoli were going to loan the big-haired midfielder from Manchester United because he's not part of new manager Louis Van Gaal's plans.

Two problems with that, though: one, Fellaini was no longer in Brussels, having returned to training with Manchester at their Carrington training ground today. Two, once the rumors started, Napoli quickly released a statement through Radio Kiss Kiss that Bigon's Belgian detour had nothing to do with any sort of transfer business and that no contact or negotiations with Fellaini or his representatives had taken place.

Things died down after that, but in the last few hours the English press has seized upon the story as something that's imminent and certain to happen. The Guardian, Telegraph, Independant, and other papers and broadsheets are all reporting variations on the same theme: Manchester want to unload Fellaini for £15 million (roughly €19 million), and while Napoli would prefer to take the midfielder on loan, they're more or less prepared to pony up the cash for a sale.

Even that report ignores a bevy of problems. Napoli haven't been willing to pay that much for anyone yet this summer, much less that much for a midfielder who's always been overrated and is coming off a terrible season. The 26 year old also has massive wages, believed to be in the area of €125,000 per week, which would make him one of the highest-paid players at the club if he even just stayed at that paygrade, behind only Gonzalo Higuain. That's far too much money for Fellaini even if he's playing well, and, well, he hasn't been playing well.

As for his fit with the Napoli side Rafa Benitez is putting together... well, it's not great. Fellaini can certainly fill either the holding mid or box-to-box mid roles that Napoli seem to be seeking to fill, but his positioning is far too suspect to rely on as a holder, and as a box-to-box mid he spends too much time running around like a chicken with its head cut off to actually be effective with his movement.

Fellaini is also a very rash football player, who tends to let his elbows fly around and leave his studs up in tackles. He won't get away with that nearly as often in Italy as he does in England, and that will only hurt his team with the card suspensions he'd pick up and dangerous free kicks he'd give away.

He'd definitely offer a better physical presence than Napoli currently have, using his frame and aerial ability to wreak havoc in the box. But is that really worth the financial and tactical risks that Fellaini would represent? No, and Napoli and Bigon are smart enough to know that.