NO-ONE has been more influential for Everton during their impressive start to the season than Marouane Fellaini.
But the Belgian didn’t even need to kick a ball last weekend to once again shape the mood at Goodison.
Fellaini’s declaration that he was in one of his last seasons at Everton and could even move away as soon as January sent a shockwave through the fanbase that continues to reverberate.
The player made a meek attempt to backtrack when the impact of his comments, said to an open press conference after training with Belgium on Sunday, became clear.
Fellaini, though, was fooling nobody. Now the proverbial cat is out of the bag, Everton can expect a season of speculation concerning the midfielder’s next move.
Of course, this will be nothing new, with Fellaini having long been linked with transfers to, among others, Chelsea and Real Madrid in campaigns past.
It’s perhaps inevitable that the hairy Belgian will move away from Goodison, David Moyes’s side, despite their very best efforts, unable to offer the regular Champions League football the player quite rightly regards himself now primed for.
Fellaini signed a new lucrative contract last November that made him the highest paid player at the club.
However, even the most ardent Evertonian would accept there was precious little chance of the midfielder seeing out the full length of that deal.
Everton have been good for Fellaini ever since his £15million arrival on transfer deadline day more than four years ago. And during the last six months, the Belgian has blossomed into the player for which Moyes readily smashed the club’s transfer record.
January seems too soon for Fellaini to depart, no matter how Everton’s season transpires between now and the New Year.
But it will come.
The challenge for Everton now is to ensure they get the best price for the Belgian, a task for which they have plenty of previous success with the sales of Joleon Lescott, Mikel Arteta and, most recently, Jack Rodwell.
For now, though, Fellaini would be best served getting his head down, continuing his excellent early season form and ensuring Everton can command top dollar for a player who will now be very much in demand.