If Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani are the South American representatives of this summer transfer market, Wayne Rooney ensured the United Kingdom also had two of those. On the day of league title celebration, reports surfaced that a transfer request had been submitted by the 27 years old England striker (First Post), joining Gareth Bale to be global clubs’ transfer targets from the Premier League.
Since then, David Moyes has provided more twists and turns to the rumours, clouding increasing uncertainty over the future of Rooney at Old Trafford. After all, this does not seem unfamiliar to United fans.
In 2010, Rooney threatened to leave United after a thundering season, scoring 34 goals in all competitions. Having already seen Cristiano Ronaldo departed to the Bernabeu twelve months prior, Sir Alex Ferguson could not afford to lose another prolific striker. Soon, the case was closed as Rooney was made Manchester United’s most well-paid player in their history.
Coming to 2013, Rooney does not have the bargaining power any more. His total appearances for the season is all-time low since he has arrived at Old Trafford. He still scored sixteen goals, including twelve in the league, but Rooney was no longer Sir Alex’s boy. Already not the first-choice striker, he was even benched in important matches, most notably the second leg against Real Madrid in Champions League.
There were times he appeared to be the perfect partner to Robin Van Persie; but there were times he looked expendable to the team. With Shinji Kagawa and Danny Welbeck maturing, it is questionable Rooney will still be the automatic starter under David Moyes. Even for the central midfield role, that Rooney is also capable of playing, Moyes is now looking externally, trying to tempt Fabregas back to England, to fill the void left by the retired Paul Scholes.
He is no longer indispensable to United. However, one would expect his place in the England team remains well secured. Jose Mourinho claimed Rooney could not afford to be benched in the season prior to World Cup, but does Hodgson have any better option? How likely will an England player of Rooney’s calibre arise in the next twelve months to displace his berth in the national squad?
Entering his tenth season in Manchester, Rooney does possess affection towards Manchester United. If he were to discover a new challenge in his career, going to a foreign country before the World Cup may not be the best option, particularly after a season of ups-and-downs.
Though showing a great deal of interest, Jose Mourinho is still yet to reveal his game plan this season, let alone the futures of Fernando Torres, Demba Ba, and Romelu Lukaku still remain in doubt. Will Rooney be guaranteed a place in the Chelsea first-team, if not his preferred striker role, and how quickly could he adapt to a new playing style under a new manager?
United knows they have the initiative this time. They definitely would love Rooney to be back, but are well-prepared to sell if he is no longer passionate to be a Red Devil. If Rooney is looking for a more lucrative contract, this might not be his year. It is time to show his professionalism and focus to bring his best game back, while the nation still counts on him for the World Cup dream. He will still be only 28 next year and could yet reach the peak of his career. No matter he is thinking about money or Rio De Janiero 2014, proving his status as one of the best players in the world in a familiar ground would do no harm to either his country or his market value.
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