Jose Mourinho has acknowledged that Marouane Fellaini holds the balance of power in his Manchester United contract negotiations, but believes the midfielder wants to stay.
Fellaini’s contract at Old Trafford expires in June, and he has so far refused to agree an extension despite offers from the club.
The Belgium international, 30, gave an interview earlier this week in which he criticised United for not offering him a new deal last season.
Fellaini came off the bench to score United’s winner in a 2-1 victory over Arsenal last weekend, and has been linked with a number of clubs across Europe, as well as a move to China.
“I’m still positive. He’s important. He’s a player that I like,” said Mourinho. “But he has a different position in relation to other players with contracts. We can control other players’ destiny but in Marouane’s case, the destiny is in his hands.
“He knows I want him to stay, the club wants him to stay, he has an offer from us and it’s up to him to say yes or no.
“I am still positive, as he likes to be here, he likes the feeling of the manager trusting him and I think there is a good chance for him to stay. But if he leaves, so be it.”
Mourinho takes his team to Brighton in the Premier League on Friday knowing that a victory would all but secure second place, their best finish for five years.
– Lukaku misses out –
United will be without top scorer Romelu Lukaku, who is recovering from the ankle injury that forced him off during last Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal.
However, Mourinho is hopeful that the Belgian striker will recover in time to face their former club Chelsea in the FA Cup final at Wembley on May 19. “I hope so,” Mourinho said. “It looks positive.”
Mourinho meanwhile, has indicated he is leaving Eric Bailly out of his team at present in order to give other defenders a chance of making their countries’ World Cup squads.
Bailly will not be going to Russia as Ivory Coast failed to qualify, but Argentina’s Marcos Rojo, England pair Chris Smalling and Phil Jones and Sweden’s Victor Lindelof all have varying hopes of making the tournament.
“Honestly, my work is not about World Cups and preparing players for the World Cup or giving chances to players at the World Cup,” said Mourinho.
“But he’s the only central defender whose country is not at the World Cup, so if I have to make a kind of more emotional effective choice to help my players, he’s the one I’m not going to help.”
Mourinho added that defenders Matteo Darmian and Daley Blind remain part of his plans despite a lack of chances this season, as long as they want to remain at the club.
“They are part of my plans. I think when a player wants to go, if that’s the case and when the right offers arrive in the club, we study that – because we always try to have the players happy.
“So if happiness for them means leaving, let’s see what happens. But they are in my plans. I don’t want to sell. I want to keep.”