Are Wayne Rooney's days numbered at Manchester United ? Is Sir Alex Ferguson determined to seek revenge for Rooney's attempt to leave the club in 2010 ? And if so, could he be at Chelsea come January ?
The Manchester United manager has never been scared to see off his superstars - witness Beckham, Jaap Stam, Roy Keane and van Nistelrooij. And Wayne Rooney looks to be the next Manchester United legend on his way out.
Rooney appears to have lost his lustre of late, with a series of below par performances towards the back end of last season (including his bit part role for England at the Euros), and indifferent form against Everton last week and Fulham on Saturday, where he came on as sub, did nothing but get injured and is now thought to be out for up to 2 months.
Rooney is thought to have fallen out of love with Manchester United (where he is no longer top dog), and he is certainly playing like it. Sir Alex is thought to have shot a message to him in his Fulham programme notes at the weekend, writing: 'If I hear a player has fallen out of love with us, and is looking elsewhere I invariably help them out of the door'.
For Rooney, the problem is that he is no longer an indispensable striker (if he ever was). With Robin Van Persie quickly off the mark, Danny Welbeck signed up for another 4 years, Ashley Young keen to regain his form, and goalscoring midfielder Shinji Kagawa already a revelation, who needs someone like Rooney, a player struggling to find form and who clearly needs the motivation of a new challenge ?
So, given that Sir Alex may now be looking to cash out - and £50m can't be sniffed at - who will come in for him ? Rooney flirted with Manchester City a couple of years back, of course, but things have moved on over there. Firstly, Manchester City has one eye on Financial Fair Play, and secondly, £50m for a player would would struggle to get into the team just won't add up.
And on the basis that Rooney doesn't appear to travel well (when has he ever delivered in big tournaments abroad for England ?), that really only leaves Chelsea, a club with a track record of paying £50m for superstar strikers going through a tough patch. Yes, Rooney could end up an Abramovich vanity purchase, the latest toy to be bought just because he can. Di Matteo, of course, will take it on the chin and make it work. And Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United will be laughing all the way to the bank.
image: © nasmac