World Cup Diary: Marouane Fellaini set to end speculation on Man United future

Belgium’s Marouane Fellaini says he will soon reveal where he will be playing his football next season amid speculation his five-year stay at Manchester United could be drawing to a close.

World Cup Diary: Marouane Fellaini set to end speculation on Man United future

The 30-year-old midfielder, who is currently on international duty with Belgium at the World Cup in Russia, is due to be out of contract on July 1.

Asked during a press conference ahead of tomorrow’s Group G showdown with England if the uncertainty over his situation had affected him mentally, he said: “No, since a few months, I am used to it.

“I am strong mentally to deal with it and soon I will say where I will be playing next season.”

Asked further if that confirmation will come on July 1, he replied: “Yes.”

United boss Jose Mourinho had hoped to keep Fellaini, who joined the club from Everton in a £27.5m (€31.2m) switch in 2013, but the player joined up with his country with no announcement forthcoming.

The Belgian has been linked with both AC Milan and Arsenal, and also with moves to China and Turkey, although he has declined to shine any light upon where he may end up.

Fellaini has made 156 appearances for United, 59 of them as a substitute, scoring 20 goals and earning Europa League, FA Cup, and League Cup winners’ medals.

Familiar face

Gary Cahill will go face to face with an old adversary when England take on Belgium, but a chance meeting in Dubai means there will be no bitterness when he sees Dries Mertens.

Neither man is certain to start the game in Kaliningrad tomorrow, with Cahill hoping for his first appearance at the World Cup and Mertens nursing an ankle knock, but they will surely cross paths during the Group G decider. The last time they shared a pitch was in a Wembley friendly on the eve of Euro 2012, when Mertens pushed the defender into goalkeeper Joe Hart. The Chelsea man left the field with a broken jaw and was ruled out of the tournament.

The pain — physical and emotional — has long since passed and the issue was settled for good when the Napoli forward spotted Cahill on holiday in March.

“To be honest it’s a nice story. I was in a restaurant and he took time out to come over and apologise for that situation, which for me was dead and buried,” he said.

“I actually respected him a hell of a lot for doing that.”

Say cheese

Russian businessman Oleg Sirota thinks he knows why France remain unbeaten heading into the knockout stages at the World Cup: He is supplying their hotel with cheese and yoghurt from his dairy.

Sirota opened his small “Russky Parmezan” factory in 2015 as a patriotic duty to keep Russians supplied after Moscow banned fresh food imports from western Europe. Now he says he has sold 400kg of Kolmogorovsky — his answer to Dutch gouda — plus dozens of jars of yoghurt to the French base.

“I understood what the secret of the French team is. They just fill themselves with good cheese, they eat it and win,” a grinning Sirota said in a storage room filled with cheeses.

In 2014 the Kremlin banned wholesale imports of fresh dairy products and meat from the European Union in 2014 — part of its retaliation against Western sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and its role in the rebellion. That forced local producers to fill the void left by the absence of delicacies such as French camembert and Italian parmesan.

Sirota set up his business in Dubrovskoye, to the west of Moscow and less than 2km from the French hotel.

The players seem satisfied with the food in Russia. “It’s not very different from what we have in France,” midfielder Nabil Fekir said.

Inter seal Nainggolan deal

Inter Milan have signed former Belgium midfielder Radja Nainggolan from fellow Serie A side Roma.

Nainggolan has signed a four-year deal with an Inter side preparing for their first appearance in the Champions League since the 2011-12 campaign, while Davide Santon and Nicolo Zaniolo have gone the other way.

Nainggolan, who retired from international football in May after being overlooked for the World Cup, has joined Inter for an initial fee of €38m.

Former Newcastle full-back Santon has moved for €9.5m while the Giallorossi have paid €4.5m for 18-year-old midfielder Zaniolo.

Meanwhile PSG midfielder Javier Pastore has undergone a medical at Roma ahead of a transfer to the Italian club. The Argentinian, who missed out on the World Cup squad, played in Serie A for Palermo before joining PSG in 2011, and is set to return to Italy in a reported €20m deal.

Saudis extend Pizzi contract

Saudi Arabia have extended coach Juan Antonio Pizzi’s contract until the end of the Asian Cup in February 2019, the FA said yesterday, a day after the Green Falcons claimed a surprise victory over Egypt in their last World Cup game.

Saudi Arabia have had a high turnover of coaches, and there was speculation Argentine-born Pizzi could be on his way out after the team suffered a 5-0 thumping at the hands of Russia in their opening game.

But the Asian side showed a marked improvement in their subsequent Group A matches, despite failing to progress from the group stage.

Pizzi began coaching Saudi Arabia in November and his contract was due to expire at the end of the tournament in Russia.

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