Marouane Fellaini is determined to make his mark in the Chinese Super League. And the fact that he has just called time on his international career would signal that the ex-Manchester United and Everton ace has every chance of doing just that now that he can fully focus on his club career.
Of course, the Belgian schemer did his very best to get fans to take him seriously when he scored the winning goal for Shandong Luneng in a 1-0 victory on his CSL debut. And with his Belgium outings behind him, it is expected that Fellaini will go on to be a huge hit following his move from Old Trafford.
Fellaini, who is aged 31, managed to find the net from close range in the 50th minute of the season opener against Beijing Renhe. It was a dream debut for the tough-tackling star who has not been especially renowned for goal-scoring during his time with the Red Devils in the Premier League. Indeed, his tally of 22 goals in 177 games for United – after switching from the Toffees for £27million in 2014 – tells you all you need to know about his ability to chip in with goals.
His retirement from international football brings the curtain down on a 12-year career with the national team. Fellaini, who bagged 18 goals in 87 appearances for Belgium and played for his nation in two World Cups, said: “After 12 years of representing Belgium at the highest level, I have decided to retire from senior international football.
“I feel the time is right for me to step down and allow the next generation of players to continue this very successful period in Belgian football history. I have many amazing memories and I am very proud Belgium is currently number one in the FIFA rankings.”
But even with Fellaini, Shandong Luneng couldn’t chalk up a win in their second outing of the new season and earned only a point when they drew 2-2 at home to Henan Jianye at the Jinan Olympic Sports Center in front of a decent crowd of 25,066.
Reigning champions Shanghai SIPG occupy familiar territory at the top of the pile with two wins out of two, and this even without the services of free-scoring Wu Lei who has departed to play for Espanyol in Spain. His move has been greeted with excitement and Shanghai SIPG assistant coach Xie Hui said: “It’s massive. I had no doubt that he had the capacity to play in a top league, in a good team.
“He always had this dream and when he came to ask me what would happen with the language, I told him that football is a common language. I told him not to worry, that the most important thing is on the pitch and on the training field. They will respect you if you show it on the grass, it’s as simple as that.”
Minus the star goal-getter, Shanghai SIPG cruised to a 4-0 triumph in their opening league encounter away at Shanghai Shenhua, with former Chelsea ace Oscar grabbing a goal in the romp at the Hongkou Stadium before some 23,832 fans. Then a 3-2 win over Jiangsu Suning at the Shanghai Stadium in front of 23,501 supporters meant they have enjoyed a 100 per cent winning start to their campaign.
Now fans are eagerly anticipating more twists and turns as the season unfolds.