The 27-year-old Englishman formerly regarded as the Red Devils star player and one of the finest strikers on the continent, now finds himself standing in the shadows behind his Dutch counterpart who took all the plaudits this term, along with the Golden Boot for the Premier League goals tally.
Rooney was out through injury in the earlier stages of the season and, upon his return, found himself deployed by manager Sir Alex Ferguson as an attacking playmaker in midfield, a role that has not been his preference in his entire career to date.
He was subsequently rotated in and out of the starting line-up for much of the season with new signing Shinji Kagawa and even found himself operating on the flanks on some occasions.
He has been benched by the boss in key fixtures, most notably for United’s Champions League quarterfinal clash with Real Madrid at Old Trafford in which Rooney was brought on in the last 20 minutes, following Nani’s dismissal, to little effect and, ultimately, no avail.
He has, across the board, been completely upstaged by Van Persie this season and the competition presented by Javier Hernandez and young Danny Welbeck means that Rooney’s position at the club is no longer assured in quite the manner it was.
Meanwhile, his current contract with United, reportedly worth £250,000 a week, expires in 2015 and the club have understandably begun preliminary negotiations with the player’s representatives to agree a new deal as he enters the final year of his current deal next summer.
Wayne Rooney is worth around £50 million to Manchester United – he’s just an asset, the same as a car or a property – what he means to the fans may be more sentimental but the club, the Glazers, the sponsors and the directors are unlikely to feel the same way, especially given his behaviour the last time he negotiated a contract.
Last time he effectively held the club to ransom, threatened to leave and thoroughly embarrassed the manager – the fans of course forgave him the next time he scored – but this time I very much doubt he will be granted the leeway he was then – he is much less integral to United’s continued success now and this posturing over his future is only going to make the club consider offloading him a more appealing option.
However, there is a problem – there are only a handful of clubs that can afford him and, of those, it’s still debatably whether they would want him. Currently Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and possibly Monaco could afford him along with a select few Russian clubs who would be unlikely to be able to convince him to migrate there.
Real Madrid are no longer that interested, as far as I’m aware, Bayern Munich have categorically stated they are not interested, Chelsea or City would destroy his reputation as one of United’s greats, the Monaco project still needs time to develop.
There really is only one option: PSG want him, they’ll pay through the nose to get him, and Manchester United will likely take their offer and laugh all the way to the bank. For the first time in his career Wayne Rooney is expendable, replaceable, and, frankly, worth more to United in cash than he is on the pitch.
image: © psgmag