Manchester United’s decision to hand Marouane Fellaini a new two-year contract has been backed by Gary Neville.
The Belgium midfielder was 24 hours from becoming a free agent before United revealed the 30-year-old had signed an extension that will keep him at Old Trafford until 2020, with the option of an additional 12 months.
The announcement on Friday split supporters, but former United defender Neville insists it is a good move — as long as Fellaini is only used as a squad player by manager Jose Mourinho.
“I don’t think it makes a huge difference either way because he’s not the final piece of the jigsaw that gets United back to winning the Premier League title,” he told Sky Sports. “There’s always a lot of exposure on Fellaini — people saying ‘he’s not a United midfielder’ — but the reality is he does contribute in the season and you need all different types in the dressing room.
“If United need to go long, he’s someone who can do it. If I was sat here as a United fan thinking he was the number one midfielder player I wouldn’t be happy.
“But if I was thinking he’s part of a midfield pool of four or five players then I would be satisfied with that.”
Fellaini is likely to miss United’s preseason tour of the United States after Belgium qualified for the knockout rounds of the World Cup with Roberto Martinez’s team in action against Japan on Monday.
With a number of players still involved in Russia, Mourinho may be forced to take a young squad to America later this month.
Scott McTominay will be part of the group and he says it is a chance for other young players to make a name for themselves in the absence of established first-team regulars.
“We’re going back to the States this year and it’s a great chance for more young players to come and show the manager what you can do,” he said to Manchester United’s official website. “To be selected for the tour was a really good achievement for me [last year] and I was involved in some great games.
“I came on against Real Madrid, to play against them was incredible for me. I got my first senior goal for the club against Valerenga and that was such a proud moment and it just makes you want more.”
Rob is ESPN FC’s Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.