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Sunday 19 November 2017

I want to be new Keane -Fellaini

United's £27.5m signing desperate to hit ground running and carve out place among greats

Simon Stone

Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini wants to emulate Roy Keane and become a Red Devils legend.

After a tortuous summer, the Belgium international is preparing to make his United debut against Ian Holloway's Crystal Palace at Old Trafford today.

Although manager David Moyes knew as soon as he was appointed as Alex Ferguson's successor that he wanted Fellaini to make the switch from Goodison Park with him, it was not until the last dregs of the transfer window that a £27.5m switch was finally concluded.

But now it has been done, Fellaini has set his sights on having an Old Trafford career to remember. "Roy Keane was an aggressive player who could win every ball," said Fellaini. "Maybe I can do this as well.

"I can win the ball. I can clear the ball. I can play clean. The manager must decide where I play, but I want to play defensive midfield.

"In the past they have had (Eric) Cantona, Keane, (David) Beckham. I hope (I can do it too). I will work hard for this."

United did not confirm Fellaini had become the fourth most expensive player in their history until 2.0am on September 3, three hours after the transfer window had closed.

Prior to that, the 25-year-old had driven back to Everton's Finch Farm training complex for one final time in order to persuade Blues manager Roberto Martinez of his desire to leave.

That, coupled with Fellaini's decision to forgo £4m in bonus payments, finally triggered Everton chairman Bill Kenwright's decision to sanction a transfer that the former Standard Liege man thought would never happen.

"With the chairman at Everton you never know," he said. "Sometimes I thought there was no chance for me to join Manchester United, but I talked with the manager. It was a big opportunity for me to join one of the biggest clubs in the world.

"I know what my objectives are. I want to win trophies. That is why I play football. With Manchester United I have a big chance to win something."

Moyes has been criticised for allowing a £23.5m clause in Fellaini's contract to lapse on July 31.

The decision effectively cost a hefty sum, although United insist they did not actually pay any more than the initial sum. Yet Moyes was motivated more by a desire to conclude a double deal which also involved Leighton Baines. It was only when the possibility of signing the England full-back disappeared that Moyes split the deal.

"We didn't want to give up on Leighton," said Moyes. "We felt the best way to do that was to try and keep the two deals together. Only at the last minute did we split them."

After five years working with Fellaini, Moyes believes he has the kind of attributes he needed in a midfield shorn of Paul Scholes following his retirement and Darren Fletcher due to his ongoing battle against illness.

"Marouane can play several roles and I needed that," said Moyes. "We have a busy schedule coming up. We want to be able to play different ways in different games."

Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney is in contention for a surprise return to action for United against Crystal Palace today, less than a fortnight after being ruled out for three weeks with a head wound.

Moyes will make a final decision on Rooney's participation against Palace this morning, with next Tuesday's Champions League clash against Bayer Leverkusen and the trip to Manchester City on Sunday also likely to influence whether he is selected.

Irish Independent

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