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Dublin: 11 °C Monday 14 October, 2019

Fellaini claims he didn't leave Man United for the money

The Belgian midfielder says he has headed to China for a new challenge.

Marouane Fellaini (file pic).
Marouane Fellaini (file pic).

MAROUANE FELLAINI SAYS his move from Manchester United to China was not driven by money, adding that he might still be at Old Trafford had Jose Mourinho remained as manager.

The Belgium international has swapped the Premier League for the Chinese Super League after linking up with Shandong Luneng.

He claims the decision to make that switch was based purely on the desire to make a fresh start after more than 10 years in England, telling Het Niuewsblad: “I went to Shandong Luneng now because they were interested for years already. And I felt ready for a new challenge, a new culture, a new life.

“Okay, I’m only 31 years old. But I signed for three years. Afterwards I’m 34, then it would be too late to go to China.

“I could have joined a top European club and been important there for two more years, that would have been no problem. But after 10 years and 350 games in England, I felt ready for this step. I’m happy with my choice.

“I’m already a professional for more than 12 years and everything went fine. I made my own choices and don’t regret anything. I played at Standard [Liege], the biggest club in Belgium and won titles there. I went as a record transfer to the Premier League and opened doors to England for other Belgian players.

At Everton I did well and at United I won some cups and a Europa League. The only thing missing is a Premier League title, that’s true.

“But I don’t dream anymore about a comeback to European top football. But maybe a comeback to Belgium, why not?”

Fellaini is reported to have penned a lucrative contract in China, a matter of months on from agreeing to a new two-year deal at United, but he maintains finances have never influenced his thinking.

He added: “Not me. I see this as a challenge at a club that has it all. Literally. You should see our medical and technical facilities. I love being here.

“With the Asian Champions League, I’ll have to play two games a week here as well. I won’t be able to get more rest than in England every week. But okay, it’s true that the intensity is different here.”

The 31-year-old said of his time with United: “My first season in Manchester was difficult, but I left as a respected player.

“I gave my very best for this club, played so many games and almost only scored important goals.

“I worked with super players and managers at one of the biggest clubs in the world. Then you can only look back with a smile.

I really don’t have a favourite [manager]. David Moyes or Louis van Gaal. I learned something from every manager.”

Mourinho and Moyes were the managers to display the most trust in him and Fellaini concedes that things could have been different had the Red Devils not replaced Mourinho with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in December.

Asked if he would still be in Manchester had that call not been made, he said: “I don’t know. In football there are opportunities that come and go. But I still had a contract at United, so maybe I would still be there.”

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