Belgium coach Martinez hints at Fellaini recall

Marouane Fellaini could make a surprise return to Belgium’s national team ahead of the European Championship, with coach Roberto Martinez reportedly saying he is thinking about recalling the midfielder, reports Reuters.

Fellaini ended his international career after moving to Shandong Luneng in the Chinese league last March. But Martinez told the Belgian media he was pondering a return for the 32-year-old former Everton and Manchester United player.

“He retains a unique profile, and as a coach I want as many different profiles as I can have in my team. At the World Cup it was obvious how important he can be, and he has been difficult to replace,” Martinez said at a function reported by the Belgian media on Saturday.

“I’ve been following him closely and can see that he is still playing at a high level,” he was reported as saying. “The European Championship only starts in four months’ time and that can be a lifetime in football, but I’m open to him returning and so is he. Let’s first see how things develop in China with the coronavirus.”

If Fellaini is to play at Euro 2020, where Belgium have been drawn in Group B with Denmark, Finland and Russia, Martinez would have to break one of his own rules.

The coach previously said that in selecting his squad for any major tournament, he would give preference to those who had competed in most, if not all, of the qualifying matches.

Fellaini won the last of his 87 caps at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Belgium are to play two warm-up friendlies against Portugal and Switzerland in Qatar between March 23-30. They begin Euro-2020 against Russia in St Petersburg on June 13.