Amid denial and conflicting reports, Wayne Rooney is likely to be the second big name leaving Old Trafford this summer, with clubs both in England and abroad looking to offer him a fresh start in his career. You can’t help but feel that a move would benefit both club and player, with Rooney failing to live up to the expectation of him and Manchester United looking to alter the look of their frontline this summer.
The part of this story that is most intriguing is whether Rooney, one of the biggest English names, is suited for a move abroad – and I’m not just talking about talent or playing style. Players like David Beckham have been the exception to the rule, that being that English players rarely break out of their comfort zone. The Premier League may be billed as the best, but for English players it’s what they know and are accustomed to.
For United, this summer may be the best opportunity to start again. Here is a player who has sent in a second transfer request since being at the club, and this time there isn’t such a need for Rooney to remain at Old Trafford. The player’s performances have been down, he’s scored only 12 league goals – a number which is not befitting of his reputation in football – and, most importantly, United have found ways of winning and surviving without him in the team.
It’s also a matter of what Rooney represents and that he is often the first name most would think of when thoughts of United come to mind. His adaptability at various positions in the team also make him a great asset to have, but just because he does well in the centre of midfield doesn’t mean that is the best option for the long term.
One of the problems going into this summer is that United will do all they can to avoid selling domestically. You really have to applaud that level of thinking and strength in holding that position. Despite being off their books, Rooney would still prove to be an issue, either directly or indirectly, if he remained in the Premier League. But do PSG, one of the frontrunners abroad, tick all the boxes?
Interestingly, it might make the most sense. Both PSG and Rooney could be argued to be on similar paths at this stage. The player is trying to regain (or attain) a higher standing in the game, while PSG will be keen to build their own reputation across Europe after their Ligue 1 triumph. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic likely to depart this summer, there is an opening for a big-name striker to take over.
And let’s not assume that Rooney would be off in some obscure corner of European football and lacking any kind of competition. For all their wealth, PSG will still face competition from the other big names in French football. Monaco will re-join Ligue 1 and will do everything their wealth allows to put together a strong title challenge. And it also shouldn’t be forgotten that PSG did well in this season’s Champions League; with players like Thiago Silva and Ezequiel Lavezzi, they’re sure to make an impression next season again.
From a footballing standpoint, PSG does look to be one of the better destinations, and one who United would certainly do business with. The question remains as to how Rooney himself would adapt to life in France. As mentioned, there isn’t really much to go by in terms of other big English stars moving abroad. Beckham did all he could to embrace Spanish culture, but you certainly feel that Rooney and his personality would be a little different in France.
And then there are the options in England, with Chelsea and Arsenal rumoured to be possible destinations. Either of these teams would seem ridiculous for what it would mean in the Premier League, and for all the shouting they may do, it appears beyond reality for what may actually happen this summer.
Manchester United are not Arsenal, they won’t sell to a rival if they don’t want to. Moreover, why strengthen Chelsea in such a way when the focus will be to put themselves and David Moyes in a position of absolute strength in England?
Bayern Munich have been touted too, as well as Real Madrid and Barcelona. But for everything that can be made sense of at this time, France would appear to be Rooney’s best destination should he depart United this summer. If Rooney could lead PSG to title glory he would more than elevate his status in European football. It would be a signal that amid all the frustration and disappointing performances, a very good player just needed a fresh start, a new challenge and unwavering confidence as a club’s most important asset.
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