We are far from the real meat of this summer’s transfer window, and yet Wayne Rooney’s name has become a staple among gossip columns, most of which seem to point to a future away from Manchester United. The player is said to be meeting with new manager David Moyes this week to discuss his future, but for all that he’s achieved at Old Trafford, maybe it’s time for a new chapter in his career.
There may be a feeling at Old Trafford that losing Rooney is out of the question, and not because he’s breaking records with his scoring each season. Over the past four seasons, and in spite of Robin van Persie’s near-outstanding campaign, Rooney has been the face of the club. You forget at times that he isn’t their own youth product, as images of his goals against Manchester City and Barcelona lead the way as some of his finest moments.
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But Rooney has far from become one of the faces of European football. We rattle off the biggest names in the game and immediately start in Spain. The recent surge of power from Germany forces us to look to the Bundesliga’s top two outfits for their leading names, and then we head to Serie A and Italy’s recent take on the Invincibles before rounding it off in England. Rooney comes to mind after all that and probably not before Luis Suarez, van Persie, Juan Mata, and Gareth Bale.
It would be wrong to suggest that Rooney can’t retake the mountain at Old Trafford and under a new (or old) mentor. But it’s become routine now and we know exactly what to expect. There’s no consistency and the frustrating part of it all is that we want to see Rooney’s overhead kick every week. Maybe not an exact replica, but something of equal quality. It’s the kind of demands that should be placed at the feet of a player with such ability, and much of it is a barely disguised compliment to his talent.
Yet at which point does Rooney say to himself he has earned the right to a new challenge? Wouldn’t it be truly something to see a player of his quality turn out for Real Madrid, Juventus, maybe even Borussia Dortmund? There have been ideas thrown out there in the recent past that PSG would be an ideal destination for him. Thinking practically, the distance from England isn’t great by any means, allowing him to move back and forth for international duty. The club have the pieces in place to transfer their obvious might in domestic football onto the European stage, yet all that’s missing is a blockbuster signing for this summer. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva did it last summer; Rooney could have an even greater effect on the club over the long term.
We don’t really know what the player himself is thinking, so it would be remiss to label him as bored with life in Manchester. But numbers speak for themselves – 26, 11, 27 and 12 Premier League goals over the past four seasons – with a level of inconsistency that forces questions as to what the barrier is that’s preventing someone of his ability from maintaining the maximum in the way others in his class do.
Does he need the love and full commitment of a club? In all his time at Manchester United, has he ever been the standout superstar? Yes, for a short time when he deemed the club below him and put forward his first of two transfer requests. It’s a paradox and a potentially ironic one. Maybe somehow there needs to be a balance between him being the undisputed star name but with a group behind him who are more than a simple backing band. Paris?
The English factor may come into play. Rooney will probably be led on by the idea that foreign lands are just that – too “foreign.” How many English players go abroad unless they have to? The idea of leaving the Premier League seems to be one where it’s only used when there is no other option. We’re quick to think of David Bentley, Joe Cole and Joey Barton before David Beckham. But maybe that’s the barrier; maybe there is something more for Rooney in the game beyond the borders of English football. And if this seems like unnecessary and baseless speculation, there is no smoke without fire.
At 27, Rooney still has some of his best years left in the game. A new environment – both club and media – and a new injection of life could be all it takes for us to see the very best of Rooney. At a club like PSG he’d be given a purpose on the pitch: to turn the club into champions on the European stage, while off it he’d do incredible things for the reputation of French football as a whole.
There is a risk attached, obviously. There are no guarantees for him to settle outside of England. But I’m not going to follow the idea that Rooney is too much of a Premier League player to be a success elsewhere. On the whole it makes no sense. But at this time, it does seem as though Rooney’s time at Manchester United is dragging on unnecessarily. A move abroad could see him become the player many projected him to be, but importantly on a regular basis.
Should Rooney move on from Manchester United this summer?
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