Actually Wayne Rooney may be Sir Alex Ferguson's best ever signing

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has announced his plans to retire to the boardroom at the end of the season.

Whilst Ferguson is undoubtedly regarded as one of the greatest ever practitioners of the game, his dealings in the transfer market surely cemented that reputation. Not all have been perfect, but when he has struck gold, it has been 24-carat.

Who has been his best signing? I suppose that depends on the definition of ‘best’ – does that mean the most talented or the player that made the most impact or perhaps even the most economical in terms of value for money?

Well, if we’re talking about quality, there’s certainly an abundance of candidates to choose form – this season Robin van Persie’s £24.5 million purchase from Arsenal surely won United the title but how does the Dutchman compare to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo?

If we’re going for the most quality addition Ferguson ever made, it surely has to be Ronaldo – there is only one player who resides alongside Lionel Messi as the best footballer on the planet and that is United’s former Portuguese talisman, bought in for £12.24 million from Sporting.

That’s not a bad profit either – if we’re talking value for money, Ronaldo’s signing surely takes the biscuit and the tin with it. However, you have to also look at his astute acquisition of Peter Schmeichel for just £ 530,000 back in 1991.

Schmeichel was truly a force of nature between the sticks for United and for 8 long years United’s back line were in the safest of hands.

But, whilst Schmeichel gave great service to the club, his impact on the team doesn’t come close to Eric Cantona, who, even above Van Persie surely made the biggest impact – not only on United but on the Premier League and, furthermore, world football.

The Frenchman was bought for just £1.2 million from Leeds United in 1992 and he completely changed the face of English football. In his 5-year spell with the Red Devils, Cantona scored 64 goals which actually comes nowhere near the only name yet to be mentioned and my pick as Sir Alex Ferguson’s greatest ever signing – Wayne Rooney for £27 million from Everton in 2004.

Rooney isn’t the greatest value for money, he’s didn’t have the instant impact value of Van Persie or Cantona and he isn’t regarded as the best player in the world but for almost a decade Rooney has been one of the most dangerous strikers in the world, undoubtedly.

He’s scored 141 goals for United and I’m prepared to assert my adamant belief that, without Rooney and his willingness to sacrifice himself for his teammates; Ronaldo and Van Persie would not have performed as well.

His leadership qualities and his service to the club are almost on a par with the likes of Schmeichel and Roy Keane – he is Mr Manchester United, as far as I’m concerned – more than Cantona, more than Van Persie, more than Ronaldo, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic.

So it may be controversial but Wayne Rooney was and still is the greatest ever purchase in Sir Alex Ferguson’s 26-year reign.

What do you think? Who is Fergie's greatest?

images: © Audrey Pilato, © nasmac

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