Man United will not sell Marouane Fellaini in January - but risk losing him for nothing next summer
Manchester United will not sell Marouane Fellaini in January even if that means losing the Belgium midfielder for nothing when his contract expires next summer.
Fellaini rejected a new contract offer from United in September and will be free to sign a pre-contract agreement with a foreign suitor in January.
Talks over a new deal with United remain at an impasse, but while the club have not given up hope of persuading him to stay at Old Trafford as they consider an improved offer, they would prefer to let him leave for free at the end of the campaign rather than lose him in mid-season.
That would mean writing off a fee for Fellaini but United manager Jose Mourinho considers him too important to countenance a sale in the winter transfer window.
Galatasaray have a long-standing interest in Fellaini but a host of foreign and Premier League clubs are expected to jostle for his signature in the event Mourinho fails to persuade him to stay at United beyond a fifth season.
United activated an option in Fellaini’s contract last season to extend his deal until next summer but now face a fight to retain his services.
It marks a remarkable change in fortunes for the Belgian, who had long struggled for acceptance among the fans. A £27.5 million signing from Everton in 2013, Fellaini became a symbol of the calamitous David Moyes regime and his standing among supporters did not improve under Louis van Gaal.
But Fellaini has emerged from the criticism to become a key figure under Mourinho, whose staunch backing the player has come to appreciate.
Fellaini was jeered after coming on as a substitute and conceding a costly penalty against Everton last season but he has since won over many - if not all - fans with a series of consistent performances in midfield.
The Belgian has become Mourinho’s preferred midfield pick after Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic and moved ahead of Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick in the pecking order and his departure would be bemoaned by the manager.