In the midst of the drama and emotion of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement last week, one could be forgiven for missing the announcement that Wayne Rooney had once against requested a transfer away from Manchester United.
This is not the first time that Rooney has asked to leave Old Trafford, having previously stated his intention to walk out on the Red Devils in October 2010. However, a lot has changed since then, and rather than eliciting widespread panic and confusion as the previous announcement did, Rooney’s latest transfer request has resulted mainly in shrugs and statements that perhaps Rooney’s time at Old Trafford is indeed up.
Why does he want to go?
The ironic thing about Rooney’s desire to leave the club that has made him a very decorated footballer indeed is the fact that his previous transfer request came because the Rooney was not impressed with the club’s inability to recruit world-class players. Fast forward two and a half years, and it appears to be the fact that United have recruited world class players (namely Robin van Persie) that has put Rooney’s nose out of joint.
Before the Dutchman arrived, Rooney was the main man; but this season he has largely played second fiddle to the prolific striker, with Ferguson playing him in a deeper role. Previously a player that Ferguson would always play in the big games, Rooney was left out of the starting line-up that faced Real Madrid in the Second Round of the Champions League; and all of these things have no doubt added to Rooney’s chagrin.
Rooney also has a somewhat complicated past with the new Man United manager David Moyes. Moyes was the man to give the Croxteth product his big break at Everton; but following his move to United, Rooney had one or two unsavoury things to say about Moyes’ management in his autobiography. David Moyes took exception to what Rooney had written and sued the player for libel. The case dragged on for a while, and in the end Moyes emerged victorious. The official word is that the two have patched up their differences, but it would not be too surprising if this was also contributing towards Rooney’s renewed determination to leave the club that he has been at since 2004.
Will they sell him?
When Ferguson told the press that Rooney had asked for a transfer, he initially made it quite clear that the club would not be acquiescing to Rooney’s request to leave. However, when pressed, he intimated that this would be a decision for the new manager, and what a difficult decision this is for David Moyes.
On the one hand, with many questioning Moyes ability to handle the pressures of managing the biggest club in the world, this would be the perfect chance for him to show that he means business. It would certainly be a great demonstration of his authority if he sold the 27 year old to indicate a new start for United as they enter the Moyes era.
On the other hand, selling Rooney would no doubt be a huge risk. While Robin van Persie was clearly a superb signing and contributed hugely to United winning the Premier League; the Dutchman himself went through a goal drought for several games this season. If van Persie has a less impressive season next year, Moyes will want someone else capable of getting the goals, and for all his criticism, Rooney does score goals. There is also the danger that Rooney gains a new lease of life at a new club, and Moyes is blamed for selling him on when he still had potential.
Where would he go?
When Rooney handed in his first transfer request in 2010, it appeared likely that if he was permitted his wish to leave he would have his pick of clubs. Not this time. Rooney’s stock has fallen to the point where he realistically has few options available to him.
Given the lack of English players willing to ply their trade anywhere other than their homeland, it seems unlikely that Rooney would venture overseas. Furthermore, the majority of the big clubs in Europe would be unlikely to want him. He doesn’t appear to be at the level where Barcelona or Real would be interested, and both German clubs already have players performing better than Rooney in his position. If Rooney does head to Europe, PSG appears his only likely destination, and they can certainly afford his wages. Nevertheless, a move to Paris for the want away striker appears unlikely.
If he’s not heading to Europe, then he has to remain in the Premier League. It seems highly unlikely that Moyes would want to sell Rooney to a Premier League rival, but if it is decided that it is in the clubs best interests to cash in, then he may well end up leaving to join another Premier League club. Which one though? If rumours are to be believed, Rooney earns around £250,000 a week, and given that he is aged 27 – a prime age for a striker – he’s unlikely to accept much of a pay cut. If Rooney isn’t willing to accept a reduced wage then Chelsea and Man City are the only realistic options, and I wouldn’t be surprised if both were interested.
This could go either way
As we can all see, this is a massive decision for David Moyes, and for the life of me I can’t see what he’s going to do. It’s rarely a good idea to keep hold of a player who wants out as not only are they less likely to realise their playing potential but they also have the potential to be quite a divisive and negative figure in the dressing room. Moyes has been very diplomatic in the press, stating how highly he regards Wayne Rooney as a footballer, so we shall just have to watch this space. My heart goes out to Moyes though; having just taken on the biggest job in world football, he now needs to deal with one of the most high profile players in world football, with all and sundry scrutinising his every move. All the best David, you’ll need it.