EVERTON supporters were hoping their cult hero would remain just that.
Marouane Fellaini: adored by the Gwladys Street but relatively unknown outside Goodison.
Or so they wanted.
If Fellaini’s powerful display in front of 85,000 and a massive television audience at Wembley was not bad enough, then the Belgian’s words this week will have Evertonians sitting even more uncomfortably.
Persistent links with some of Europe’s elite has only compounded the concern.
The 24-year-old was the game’s outstanding player when his national side met England at the beginning of the month.
It was impossible not to notice Fellaini’s influence.
The record signing from Standard Liege finished his club season in similar form and deployed behind lone striker Nikica Jelavic, Fellaini helped plot the downfall of Manchester United’s title charge in April.
Manchester City, beneficiaries of Fellaini’s prowess that afternoon, have not been linked with a move but there are nagging noises coming out of Chelsea and Real Madrid.
The influential and well-connected Spanish paper Marca has reported of Jose Mourinho’s supposed interest; interest only heightened with their apparent failure to lure Javi Martinez from Athletic Bilbao they say.
Read into that what you will, of course.
But those noises are only going to be heard louder after Fellaini, speaking to a radio station in his homeland, said: “I am ambitious; I want to play in the Champions League or in the Europa League.
“Last season we finished seventh with Everton, and we were not able to qualify us for Europe, which was a shame.
“If it comes, I take, if it does not come, I stay at Everton, where I am happy, and where I still have a four-year contract.”
Not exactly a pledge of allegiance. But instead an honest assessment of where his ambitions and the club’s achievements currently meet.
Fellaini did stress he was happy at Goodison though.