Wayne Rooney supposedly asked Sir Alex Ferguson about transferring away from Manchester United. When Sir Alex retired to be replaced by David Moyes, Rooney’s future away from United seemed to be gathering momentum. Last season, Robin van Persie stole Rooney’s thunder as the lead striker for United and the England man ended up bouncing around between midfield and supporting van Persie upfront. His desire to move was driven by a desire to play first team football in a new environment. However, given what happened in 2010, when Rooney requested to leave, citing the club’s lack of ambition, which of course resulted in him becoming the highest paid player in the Premier League, the suspicion of something similar is always there. Now, reports are emerging that regaining that status from Yaya Toure could be enough to keep him at Old Trafford.
He has two years left on his contract now so United need to make a decision. To avoid the kind of forced sale that saw Arsenal lose van Persie and that is causing problems for Borussia Dortmund with Robert Lewandowski next summer, they either need to extend his contract or sell him. The latter option is what he originally wanted, but the lack of realistic suitors may be driving this apparent change of heart. Before they Barcelona signed Neymar and Real Madrid identified Edinson Cavani as their main target, the Clasico sides were the main options. He was interested in moving to Bayern Munich when they won the Champions League but they are chasing Robert Lewandowski and Luis Suarez ahead of Rooney. This seems to leave PSG, Chelsea and Arsenal. However, with Arsenal on the verge of signing Gonzalo Higuain they would seem to be out of the running. And this is if United would even consider selling in England. Chelsea seem to be interested but selling him to Mourinho is a big risk. PSG haven’t made a strong push and it seems unlikely that he and his family would want to move overseas.
So if he’s not being heavily pursued, he might have no choice but to stay. Or, he might have been flirting with other teams in an action replay of his last face off with the club, which netted him his new £250,000 a week contract. As long as Van Persie is there, Rooney won’t get back his number one striker status. But, his role with England is unquestioned, so unlike players like Mario Gomez or David Villa who want moves to assure their position in very competitive squads for Brazil next summer, Rooney doesn’t have that threat. It possibly means his need to move doesn’t have that same urgency.
It’s almost impossible to know what is going on with the Rooney situation but as more and more big clubs that could afford him are looking at other options, his chances to leave look increasingly unlikely. But, this is if he even wants to leave in the first place. We’ve seen this kind of brinkmanship from Rooney before and it got him a new contract. At 27, a three or four year extension would see him in to his 30s, so this could be his last big contract.
It’s hard to tell who really has the power here. If Rooney did indeed ask to leave, he went out on a limb assuming that Bayern/Real/Barcelona would come calling. He’s watched them all choose other players ahead of him. So theoretically United can say that’s he’s tried to attract attention but hasn’t. Chelsea ought to be their main title challengers next season so it seems inconceivable that they’d sell to them. He’s not the main man at United anymore and that seems to bother him. The best thing for all concerned would be for him to work hard to become that again and the problem will go away.