In October 2010, Wayne Rooney claimed that he would not be staying at the club because he feared that it didn’t match his ambition. Having just missed out on the title by one point the season before, following three successive Premier League crowns, he sounded more than a little foolish.
By the end of the season, United were champions again and Rooney even scored a goal in the Champions League final, again illustrating how premature he had been to write the club off.
He now has just 18 months remaining on the contract he signed after his U-turn, again claiming that he would stay at United for as long as they wanted him, but is reportedly stalling over signing a new deal.
With United currently 7th in the league and having lost 6 games by the turn of the year, Rooney’s reservations about the club’s ability to compete are actually valid this time. He is one of the best players in the league and no one could really begrudge him wanting to leave for a better side, particularly if we don’t manage to claim that vital 4th place to ensure us Champions League football next season.
However, what Rooney wants is fairly irrelevant at this point, because there is no way the club will be selling him this summer… unless it is made worth our while. In terms of financial reward, the compensation for letting Rooney join a rival would not be worth it. With two years remaining on his deal and the manager confirming he wanted to leave, the most any team was prepared to offer for him was £25m. Chelsea were the only club interested, and we should use that term lightly, because their bid was derisory. By the summer he’ll be another year older and have a year less remaining on his deal, so we would be able to demand £20m for him, if we were lucky.
Some people have looked at the £24m we paid for Robin van Persie at the same stage in his career as Rooney would be. The difference there is that Van Persie was the league’s top scorer and had just been named the Football Writers and PFA Player of the Year. To compare him with Rooney is meaningless.
Whilst people can rightly slate the Glazers, for all their faults they’re not stupid, and there’s no way they are going to let Rooney leave for Chelsea, ensuring their success and our demise, for a pitiful £15m-£20m. The only way you can see a deal being done there is if Juan Mata, who Mourinho has claimed is free to leave Chelsea, came the other way. Mata is an incredible talent, winning Chelsea’s Player of the Year for the past two years on the trot, and at 25-years-old, that would be a fantastic deal for us. However, with PSG sniffing around, it would be more difficult than it sounds to get Mata to Old Trafford.
So, without Chelsea being able to make it worth our while, it looks as though Rooney will be staying put. People may argue he would be a disruptive element behind the scenes, but the players have known he’s wanted to leave for three years, yet we still managed to win the title twice and miss out once on goal difference. Despite wanting to leave, he’s not been that disruptive.
Along the way, being forced to stay at United, Rooney will likely become the club’s highest ever goal scorer, beating Sir Bobby Charlton’s record. This is a feat he clearly is not all too bothered about, and something most United fans would rather didn’t happen, but this is the predicament we find ourselves in.
By the time Rooney was allowed to leave the club, June 2015, he would be just a few months shy of his 30th birthday. Given the way he batters his body at the end of the season, with booze, fags and unhealthy food, sensible clubs wouldn’t be offering him a lengthy deal. The chances of Rooney being a star player in to his 30s are fairly slim.
So that leaves him with an alternative option. Despite wanting to leave, he could sign a new five-year-deal with the club. He would still be on top dollar and the club would be more willing to let him go, if the timing was right, as they wouldn’t get fleeced on the transfer fee as he had more time on his contract. But then he also then runs the risk of being forced to stay here for a further five years, which doesn’t seem to appeal to him too much.
Rooney is stuck between a rock and a hard place now, and as much as I would like to say I have sympathy for him, I really don’t. Fantastic player, our most important this season by a mile, and here’s to his great form continuing! Chin up, Wazza.