Marouane Fellaini will most certainly not be a Manchester United player come this 1 July, but his performances during this season have been often talked about. What he was bringing to this was different to anything any other player was able to do and in certain situations, that brought good things to Manchester United. On the other hand, the Belgian leaving is not that much surprising.
What do the numbers say?
This season was not a great one for him. Even though Jose Mourinho was often saying he needs Fellaini, that he likes him and want him to stay, that will not happen. The midfielder is close to joining Arsenal if the media are to be believed and the amount of playing time he was getting this past season makes it normal for him to leave after his contract ends. Fellaini played 834 minutes of Premier League and Champions League football combined. That is just over nine full 90-minute matches and United played 46 matches in those two competitions.
Fellaini also made three appearances in the FA Cup, all of them coming off the bench. In fact, only seven times did he start this season. If Mourinho really felt he needed to stay, then that was a weird way of showing it to the player who managed only one full match on the pitch since the end of November. That was not a good sign for the player. His numbers are not going to say too much about him, due to the limited time on the pitch. Fellaini scored five goals this season, which makes it even odder situation, as he often was someone bringing the difference when coming off the bench late on.
Was he an important player for the club?
However, despite all of that, he was not an important player this season. If he was, he would have been playing much more often and, in the end, his goals only managed to make difference late into the season against Arsenal, earning the victory for his team instead of a draw. It was way too often said that Fellaini was the joker United needed, someone to make things interesting when the team is chasing result. Yet what that also shows is a lack of plan if anytime your team is behind you go chasing the rival with long balls towards Fellaini.
Sure, sometimes it was productive and it offered United a chance of winning some points, but in the end it felt like that was happening way too often and there was no other plan in the side when the result was not good for them.
Projection for the 2018-19 season
Well, things look pretty much clear now. Fellaini is expected to join Arsenal from 1 July and use his position of joining on free to get himself a better contract. My feeling is that he will not offer too much to Arsenal in their bid to return to Champions League football, but it will be interesting to see how he would fit in that side.