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Sunday 22 July 2018

Fellaini points the way for a new deal

Midfielder insists he's in a strong position for United contract talks

CONTRACT TALKS: Marouane Fellaini is hoping to sign a new deal at Old Trafford. Photo: REUTERS
CONTRACT TALKS: Marouane Fellaini is hoping to sign a new deal at Old Trafford. Photo: REUTERS

Marouane Fellaini believes Manchester United made a mistake in not offering him a contract extension sooner, leaving the midfielder in a "strong position".

A divisive figure since swapping Everton for Old Trafford in 2013, the 30-year-old has become an important member of Jose Mourinho's squad.

Despite the United manager expressing his public desire for Fellaini to stay, his future may lie elsewhere given his deal is up this summer and contract discussions have been at an impasse throughout the campaign.

Mourinho indicated there had been a breakthrough in negotiations after Sunday's 2-1 defeat of Arsenal, with the match winner nodding towards another term at Old Trafford with comments looking ahead to next season.

However, a deal has yet to be tied up and Fellaini believes United are ruing their decision not to agree terms sooner.

"The entire staff is doing everything they can (so I can) stay," he said.

"The club did not renew my contract last year. Now I am in a strong position, especially since Mourinho has stated that he wants to keep me.

"Last year I went to the coach and I said that I wanted a new contract. I then had a second meeting, but I will not ask it ten times.

Important

"Afterwards I became important for the team and a good player costs at least €50m. The club knows that they went wrong there."

Fellaini says he is "open to everything" and "would not have a problem with life in China" as talk of a move east persists.

Juventus, Paris St Germain, Fenerbahce and Besiktas have also been linked with the Belgium midfielder.

"I am now 30 years old, at the end of my contract and negotiating with Manchester United," Fellaini added.

"There are several clubs that show interest. I'm waiting for what's going to happen."

Fellaini also ridiculed Jamie Carragher in the same interview, saying he has no right to criticise him because he is "the guy who spat on a girl from his car".

Carragher and Fellaini have shared a mutual disdain since the former Liverpool defender described him as a "menace in the worst possible sense" in a column written two years ago.

Fellaini originally responded by slamming Carragher as the "champion of blah blah blah and the world champion of breaking legs" in an interview, but the big-haired Belgian midfielder has now revisited his Carragher criticism, citing the pundit's suspension from Sky Sports as damning of his pundit credentials.

"How can someone like Carragher lecture me?" Fellaini said. "The guy who spat on a girl from his car after Manchester United - Liverpool.

"You know, the critics help you progress, you end up working more, you want to show them they are wrong."

With three games left to play in this season's Premier League, Fellaini and his team-mates will be looking to ensure United finish with one of their highest ever points totals.

Manchester City have already wrapped up the title in record-breaking fashion and the champions could finish the season with a record 102 points.

Should Mourinho's side win their remaining three fixtures - away to Brighton (tomorrow night) and West Ham and home to Watford - the nine points will take them to a total of 86.

Since the Premier League moved to a 20-team competition for the 1994/95 season, the average points won by the champions is 85.8.

Three wins would still leave United 16 points behind their neighbours - if both teams win their remaining games.

Should the Red Devils win all three of their remaining fixtures, they will end the campaign on 86 points, more than the points total they had when they won six of their 11 Premier League titles under Alex Ferguson.

Compared to last season when United finished on 69 points, it seems progress is being made under Mourinho, but the pressure will be on him to stop Pep Guardiola's side from strolling to the title again next season.

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