This summer is the first for many years that Arsenal are being talked about for signing other teams’ star players rather than losing their own, and two of the most commonly discussed names are Wayne Rooney and Marouane Fellaini. Even as recently as last summer the idea of Arsenal getting either of these, never mind both, would be laughed at, but this summer is different. Next season is when UEFA’s Financial Fair Play restrictions really kick in and this is what Arsenal have been preparing for over the last five years or so. Their payment schedule on the new stadium eases considerably and as they are so reliant on generating their own money they are in a strong position to take advantage of the FFP rules. So Rooney and Fellaini are affordable, they’ve got the cash sat ready and waiting. But how realistic is it for Arsenal to get them, and what would they bring to the team?

Wayne Rooney has asked to leave Manchester United. Rooney doesn’t want to play for David Moyes, his wife wants to live in London and Rooney wants to be the star striker. Arsenal could certainly satisfy the last two. In fact, not only would he be the star striker, he’d be their star player full stop. The arrival of Robin van Persie from Arsenal last summer saw Rooney drift further and further back towards, and even into, midfield. But he is openly unhappy about this. He still sees himself as a pure striker, and his goal scoring numbers back this belief in himself up. In the 2009/10 and 2011/12 seasons Rooney was deployed often as a lone striker, but always as a striker. He scored 34 and 35 goals respectively, by far the best output of his career.

Arsene Wenger

The strange thing with Rooney is that his best qualities are often overlooked in favour of his additional qualities. He works hard for a striker and has a good passing range for a striker, and this means managers are tempted to use him further back. But he’s best at scoring goals. At Arsenal, that would be exactly what he is brought in to do. With Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott, possibly even Steven Jovetic, in place, they have no need for him to play deep. Olivier Giroud is a decent striker but no more. If Arsenal sign Rooney and play him up front they will have themselves the 30-goal striker they had when they sold van Persie. Even with all of the other talent, he would be the star of the show, and he would revel in that.

Would Manchester United be willing to sell though? Surprisingly the fee discussed so far has only been around £30m because he has just two years left on his contract. Arsenal sound like they can easily afford that. If they can also pay him the circa £200k a week he get’s at United, which again chief executive Ivan Gazidis has said they can, then this could happen. He’d be an excellent signing and a real statement of intent.

Marouane Fellaini

Where Rooney is a clear fit for Arsenal, the same isn’t necessarily true of Fellaini. For many years Arsenal’s supposed weakness was in defensive midfield, they had no shield and thus a flimsy defence. But last season they had the second best defence in the league. This was not least down to a transformed Aaron Ramsey who, over the last three months of the season, was as good a protector as any midfielder in the league. His tenacity in the tackle and particularly his interceptions marked him out. Arsenal fans bemoan his passing and lack of inventiveness, but in his new position he can keep it simple and focus on defending. What does Fellaini offer that is different? Like Ramsey, he is not a particularly good or subtle passer of the ball. He’s an athletic and tough presence when deep in midfield and although there is no doubting he is a little better at that than Ramsey, can you justify spending £24m on a minor upgrade?

Fellaini caused devastation as an attacking midfielder at Everton when supplied aerially. Does Arsene Wenger really want to use Fellaini as a number ten? He’d certainly offer them a Plan B but again, is that enough to justify spending so much on? Unless Wenger is convinced that Fellaini is a significantly better defensive midfielder than Ramsey then he should not make the move. Fellaini after all, gets most of his praise for the carnage he can cause if supplied correctly in the other team’s half. He’s a very good player, but not worth Arsenal spending £24m on when they still need a goalkeeper.


  1. Am still amazed at anyone who says that Ramsey is able to defend. The only thing he is good for is passing the ball sideways and giving the ball away – and doing great runs forward that result in confusion and a pass back to the defence. It’s Wenger’s new Almunia or Bendtner – a player he insists on that no one in the footballing world rates. How many offers are coming in for Ramsey? None. Because only Wenger and some deranged fans feel he is up to it. Fellaini on the other hand is a powerful player that few can get past. He terrorises defences and frustrates attackers.. when did Ramsey last do this? Fellaini is an actual threat – Ramsey is a player who is the guy between the pass from Santi to Jack and who keeps the extraordinary talents of Ox on the bench. The only thing anyone can ever say for Ramsey is that he works hard – which I promise I would do too if given the chance, problem being – of course – that like Ramsey, I’m not very good. Fellaini would be a massive upgrade allowing Santi, Jack and the Ox more freedom to do the creative work without having to pass it to Ramsey on the way. And if Rooney is the man up front then we would have something special.

  2. There so much wrong with this article. I agree with most, if not all you’ve said about Rooney. With Fellaini however, you have it completely off target. And I mean COMPLETELY. Fellaini is a complete midfielder. For such a lanky player he is surprisingly skilled. Not only in terms of passing but his ball control is superb. He is also a very strong tackler and player in general. What is most impressive about him is that even though he was played as an attacking midfielder and at times a second striker and performed so superbly, he sees himself as primarily a defensive midfielder. That by the way is where the 22M price tag comes from. In fact considering that he’s 25, 22M is a steal. Probably why we went on to trigger it rather than negotiate, which we know is Wenger’s forte.

    • He is an upgrade, as I said, but is he enough of one to justify the outlay considering how that might impact the rest of Arsenal’s transfer plans? Look, if Arsenal really are intent on a big big spend, fixing all other issues, then obviously he makes sense. But arsenal haven’t had a negative spend for a decade so I think it’s fair to be skeptical in that context

      • I’m getting a bit of heat for the Fellaini comments so I’ll add this; I wrote this presuming that Fellaini would be a direct replacement for Ramsey as the defensive shield, and wrote the article as such. If he’s being signed to play as a wrecking crew and Wenger trusts the defence enough now not to play him as a pure screening midfielder then obviously he’s going to be a big success.

        I wrote about the difference between them as defensive minded midfielders, this highlight reel shows Fellaini at his best, as a rampaging menace, but not sat still in front of the defence which is what Wenger has used Ramsey to do and thus helped the defence improve. Clearer?

  3. Couldn’t have lost the plot more on Fellaini. To say he’s a minor upgrade over sorry ass Aaron Ramsey is simply ludicrous. As an Everton fan, I can fully appreciate just how good the giant fro is. He is a complete midfielder. Rarely ever loses the ball and wins it back instantly when he does. Best chest control in the world bar none. Super dangerous on set pieces and very good at defending them as well. Most dominating presence in center midfield in the Premier League outside of Yaya Toure on his day. Why do you think Leon Osman got an England call up? Cause this guy was making him look good. The only knock I’d have for him is that he will seem disinterested at times like any other player. Absolute steal at 22 million. 30 million is probably more fair. Mark my words. If you sign Fellaini and Rooney, you’ll win the league.


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