LONDON (AFP) – Manchester United announced on Friday night that midfielder Marouane Fellaini has left the club to join Chinese Super League (CSL) team Shandong Luneng.
The Belgium international, 31, arrived at Old Trafford from Everton in September 2013 and went on to make 177 appearances in five-and-a-half seasons at United, scoring 22 goals.
“Manchester United can confirm that Marouane Fellaini has left the club on a permanent transfer,” United said in a statement on their website.
“Everybody at United thanks Marouane for his service and wishes him well for the future as he completes his move to Shandong Luneng Taishan FC in China,” the statement added.
Fellaini joins fellow Belgian international midfielder Mousa Dembele in swapping the Premier League for the CSL after the 31-year-old signed for Guangzhou R&F from Tottenham Hotspur last month.
Former Everton player Fellaini, who last year signed a new and improved deal until 2020, was a key figure at Old Trafford under previous manager Jose Mourinho.
But he has featured only once, as a late substitute, in United’s seven Premier League games since Mourinho was sacked and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer brought in as caretaker manager.
Fellaini, who also under Solskjaer came on as a substitute in the 2-0 FA Cup third-round win over Reading on January 5, has been ruled out of recent matches by a calf injury.
The player had posted an Instagram photo of himself at an airport on Thursday, with the phrase “let’s go” written across it.
He was the first major signing of United’s post-Alex Ferguson era when his former Everton manager David Moyes paid GBP27.5 million for him.
The player, who divided opinion among fans, went on to win the FA Cup in 2016 under Moyes’ successor Louis van Gaal, and the League Cup and Europa League the following season under Mourinho.
Shandong finished third in the CSL last season, 10 points behind champions Shanghai SIPG, and were runners-up in the Chinese FA Cup.