The 27-year-old striker has been the talk of the town since Sir Alex Ferguson revealed the Englishman handed in a transfer request to the Premier League champions in May.
Meanwhile, Arsenal, along with Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, emerged in recent weeks as interested parties in the wantaway striker.
Across the English capital, returning fans’ favourite Jose Mourinho has now confirmed Chelsea are intent on luring Rooney away from Old Trafford where he has been a valuable asset since his arrival from Everton in 2004.
Mourinho was asked by reporters last week if Chelsea were targeting any other players via official bid to which he replied:
"No - and we won't."
"We want the player. Now it's up to Manchester United." Asked if it is Rooney or bust, he responded: "Yes."
David Moyes’ task of replacing the most successful British manager in history was already cumbersome enough but the Wayne Rooney transfer saga heaps added pressure on the new boss – how he handles this situation may well define his career with the Red Devils.
Moyes had stated definitively that Wayne Rooney was not for sale. The club’s chief executive Ed Woodward then insisted the club would not be against letting the striker run down his contract which expires in less than two years time.
The club appears to be taking a ‘hard line’ with the player – Moyes also described Rooney as ‘cover’ in case Robin van Persie gets injured. It’s been made abundantly clear that Rooney’s previous behaviour when he was negotiating his contract back in 2010 will not be tolerated this time around.
But, back to Chelsea, I wonder whether Mourinho’s comments are designed purely just to unsettle the player even further and, furthermore, to unsettle and test the authority of the new manager.
It seems unlikely that Chelsea would not be interested in any other player than Wayne Rooney – I don’t doubt he is a target and that they have made a bid but I have reservations as to whether he is their only target; I suspect he is one of at least a few.
What Mourinho’s comments actually equate to is preliminary mind games with David Moyes – before the season evens kicks off, the Portuguese coach, famed for his ‘dirty tricks’ and astute use of the media to his advantage, Mourinho has sent Moyes a message that resounds loud and clear.
That message reads: I’m going to make life as difficult as possible for you and for your club. It implies that Mourinho believes he can take at will what is Moyes’ – any player, any trophy, and any title. When Jose Mourinho insists he’s only targeting Wayne Rooney what he means is Chelsea are only targeting Manchester United. Let the games begin.
image: © tpower1978