A couple of years ago, after a series of all-action displays, David Moyes labelled Marouane Fellaini as the best midfielder in the Premier League. At the time, this controversial notion was taken with a pinch of salt, barely considered at all seriously by those in and around football. It was just viewed as being one of those emotional, radical lines, delivered too soon after the final whistle, by a manager who was obviously still raw from combat. However it is a statement Moyes has stood by, and often since referred to.
At the time, Fellaini was indeed enjoying a fine run of form, yet he was certainly not regarded as élite by anyone not associated with Everton. In fact, due to the crazily high card count he racked up during his primitive years in English football, and the attention this received, many chose to categorise him as a bully, void of true footballing qualities.
Injury sadly curtailed Fellaini’s season shortly after these quotes, at least temporarily consigning that debate to the sidelines. Indeed last year, injury also hampered the Belgian, as he only started 19 games in the Premier League. Seemingly in peak condition for most of this current campaign, those who have regularly seen his performances would surely agree he is now back to, and even progressing past the form that lead to Moyes’ previous remarks.
Last week I gathered together statistics that portrayed exactly how far Fellaini has progressed over the last two seasons, and just how pivotal he now is to the Toffees. The results are here, but to cut to the chase, he has improved in pretty much every category. But just how good is he on a wider scale? Regarded by most around Everton as being the club’s most valuable asset (alongside Leighton Baines), how does he rate against his leading positional rivals?
Fellaini is a combative midfielder, at his best when anchoring a midfield. 10 years ago, he would have fitted into the Premier League seamlessly, and perhaps been heralded far more when destructive midfielders such as Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira ran the show. Primarily a ball winner, Fellaini also shows surprising touch and poise when in possession, whilst often seeming unbeatable in the air thanks to his lofty frame.
Next Page: Fellaini compared to Tiote, Barry, Parker and Song