Once upon a time, a player signed a long term contract and fans rejoiced because it meant he was staying for a long time. But now, fans rejoice as it guarantees a transfer fee. How times have changed.
At Everton, we are used to our own heroes leaving for distant lands – or, rather, usually Man City. And in the short term, it always hurts – whether it´s Lescott, Arteta, Rodwell, Pienaar, Jeffers, Rooney… We´re always convinced that it´s a sign we´re about to go completely belly up, the squad will disintegrate and Moyes will leave us and go walking off into the sunset to manage Spurs or something.
But that never happens. Indeed, a different pattern emerges. We usually sell for massive sums, reinvest whatever money Kenwright doesn´t lose down the back of the sofa into solid acquisitions and actually improve as an overall side.
So Everton don´t miss the players as such – but, strangely, it´s quite often true that the players miss Everton.
Going back into the distant past, a young jug-eared Francis Jeffers took the big pay day down in London with Arsenal – and then promptly entered footballing oblivion when he didn´t have Kevin Campbell to hold his hand up front.
Steven Pienaar also went the glamorous route when London came calling – only to realise the grass really wasn´t greener at White Hart Lane.
And Jack Rodwell is already well on his way to becoming Adam Johnson the Second on the City bench as international class players highlight the lads limitations.
So, we come to Fellaini. A man on a four year contract, in the form of his life, developing each and every game to become one of the most gifted overall midfielders in world football – and certainly the most unique.
If Everton do sell our club record signing, we´re looking at no less than £30m for him. As an Evertonian, I fully understand where our club is at and I´m not going to become blinded by love for the playing staff and implore our board to fight tooth and nail to keep the big man.
But from a footballing perspective, perhaps Marouane should take a step away from his interfering father and learn lessons from what´s happened before. Is the big money move to City, Chelsea or whoever really going to benefit his career?
Aged just 24, he has time on his side. He isn´t stagnating as a footballer by playing at Everton – indeed, he´s utterly flourishing. We´re not a bad side; gone are the days when we sold Rooney and could understand as he was playing alongside comparative donkeys. Fellaini is a key component of a roaringly successful Toffees set up, and I really can´t see why he´d interrupt his development and risk moving to a club to potentially become a rotational option off the bench, a giant “Plan B” to throw on with 10 minutes to go.
Because for all of Fellaini´s qualities, that´s the danger. Even now, other clubs don´t fully understand his qualities. They see him as a man who can trap a meteor coming down from the sky at 100mph on his chest like it´s nothing, but they don´t realise his sublime footwork on the ground or his phenomenal off the ball movement which would grace most teams in world football.
At Everton, he is an essential part of a side who can genuinely challenge for the Champions League. He could have two or three more years in the royal blue and leave Goodison for Barcelona or Real Madrid – a “proper” giant club instead of the nouveau riche in England – and leave a Goodison legend. Or even more of one.
Fellaini seems destined to go down as one of, if not the best buy of David Moyes´ time at Goodison Park. The “panic buy” at £15m on transfer deadline day from Standard Liege has come good, and let´s hope we get to enjoy him for a few more seasons to come.