LONDON • Marouane Fellaini has been urged to leave Manchester United in January amid growing concerns that his career is stalling at Old Trafford.
Belgium manager Marc Wilmots wants the midfielder-cum-forward to seek a move when the transfer window opens in the new year after admitting that he was getting "annoyed" that one of his leading players is barely featuring for his club.
Fellaini enjoyed a brief renaissance under Louis van Gaal last season after a torrid debut campaign at United following his move from Everton, when he was plagued by injury and poor form.
Yet, his fortunes have nosedived this term and he has started only one of United's 16 Premier League and Champions League matches.
Van Gaal was angered by Fellaini's "stupid" red card against Hull City on the final day of last season, with the resulting ban ruling him out of the first three matches this time.
He left the player facing a battle to get into the team at a time when his place was under threat from a glut of new signings.
The arrivals of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin, the midfielders, prompted van Gaal to say that he would employ Fellaini as cover up front.
But the Belgian has been unable to dislodge Wayne Rooney or Anthony Martial.
And on a week when both are out of contention for today's visit to Watford, he too is unavailable with a calf injury.
Wilmots does not see the situation changing any time soon and has encouraged Fellaini, who will enter the final 18 months of his contract at Old Trafford in January, to consider his future.
"A player who does not play for his club is annoying for a coach," he said ahead of next year's European championship.
"Fellaini could play to support the attack, as the No. 6 (in midfield). He has very good technique, very good ability to track back and recover. Maybe, he will try to find a new challenge in January, if that is possible."
THE TIMES, LONDON