Robin van Persie was last week named the finest Premier League player this season by his fellow pro’s, highlighting his consistency and ability across the 2011-12 campaign. It’s hard to argue that the Dutchman has been anything short of inspirational this term, with his goal-scoring touch bagging the Gunners over 20 points alone, and dragging the North Londoner’s up the table after a disappointing opening. Yet, for me, there is one man who has outshone the Arsenal captain, and that is Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney.
The Red Devils striker has been in fine form this term, putting the issues of last season firmly in the past and concentration on what he does best, performing on the field of play. Due to van Persie’s goal-scoring flurry, the Manchester United man’s edge in front of the net has gone unnoticed, yet the fact remains that the England international has bagged 26 in the Premier League, just two fewer than his Dutch counterpart.
It’s easy to forget that for quite some time this season United have been fairly poor, with injuries damaging the depth of the squad and hampering Sir Alex Ferguson’s options. As a result Rooney has been, at times, employed in a deeper role, being asked to sit behind the front-line, and dictate play from an almost central-midfield role. Although his performances in this position were not as rampaging as that we are used to when watching ‘Wazza’ his qualities were there for all to see, as the ex-Everton man controlled the pace of the game, aiding his attacking colleagues.
His performances, not only this season, but down the years have drawn special praise form some of the world’s top talent, with Barcelona ace Lionel Messi stating his desire to one day work with the Manchester United star:
“It would be a dream to play with Rooney if Manchester United ever came to the point where they needed to sell him,” The Argentine told the Daily Star Sunday.
“I would personally go to the Barcelona president and ask that he be signed myself. There are always a handful of players in the world at any one time who can go down in the footballing history books. At the moment, there are maybe (Cristiano) Ronaldo, Rooney, Xavi and one or two more – but I can’t think of one that plays with the desire of Rooney. We all know football players at the top level are blessed with high wages, it’s no secret. But Rooney would play for 100 euros-a-week. You can see the fire in his eyes. It’s that fire which makes him the best of the best.”
Such high praise from, arguably, one of the finest players to ever play the game displays just how talented Rooney is, and his overall contribution to whichever team is lucky enough to have him.
One of the only drawbacks to Rooney’s game has been discipline, with the 26-year-old often suffering as a result of his desire and passion on the field of play. Many have said in the past that the remove his nasty streak would be detrimental to his game and that yellow, and occasionally red, cards are just part and parcel of his style of play. This season however, has seen an air of maturity of the part of the forward, who has ditched his questionable disciplinary record. Since his red card in the Three Lions shirt, against Montenegro, Rooney has curbed his temper, very rarely getting himself on the wrong side of officials, and as a result issues regarding his temperament have been all but removed. Yet, this hasn’t hampered his style of play, as the desire and all-action approach remains as strong as ever every time he takes to the pitch.
Although Robin van Persie has been a fine performer this term, Wayne Rooney has, arguably, been better in my humble opinion. The Manchester United striker has shown further improvement, building on his already vast skill set, and aiding his club’s pursuit of the Premier League title. It seems the Englishman is moving toward the very peak of his career, and this season has shown just how special he is, and his level of performances deserve more recognition than they have received.
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