Forget all this kerfuffle about signing Frank Lampard. The last thing Manchester United need is another ageing midfielder. To take United on to the next level, and continue his incredible dynasty at the club, Sir Alex Ferguson must consider what many would deem the unthinkable; a summer sale of Wayne Rooney. Many of you will find this notion bizarre to say the least. The prolific hitman has been a pivotal figure for the Red Devils throughout his nine seasons at Old Trafford.
With 189 goals, sitting fourth in United's all-time scoring charts, just ahead of the late George Best, and on the back of yet another Ballon D'or nomination, why on earth would Sir Alex relinquish such a talent? With view to a long-term plan, as Ferguson often works towards, selling one of the most gifted players of the 21st Century at this stage could be the answer to Manchester United continuing their domination of English football for years to come. Firstly, business is the nature of the game these days, as myself and other Old Trafford regulars are all too familiar with. Due to our huge debt we cannot splash the cash like we used to and one major signing is all we can hope for each season. Yet, if they have as much of an impact as Robin van Persie then I'm sure even the most zealous anti-Glazer protesters will be content.
One way to add to the coffers, however, is to sell - but is cashing in on one of our key players really the way to go about this? Can ability like Rooney possesses really be replaced? A player's value can fluctuate in the blink of an eye, and multiple factors affect the sort of fee a footballer can command. Rooney seems happy at United and is in his prime in terms of age. But turning 28 in October, he is facing ever increasing competition for a first-team slot. The summer arrivals of van Persie and Shinji Kagawa were intended to reduce the goalscoring responsibility Rooney has had to shoulder since the departure Cristiano Ronaldo for Real Madrid.
Both players have made an impact of such magnitude that they could alleviate the need for Rooney at all. I don't need to add any further insight into the flying Dutchman's impact in Manchester, as the stats speak for themselves, but Kagawa's start to life in England, albeit stop-start due to injury, has shown signs that he has the quality to play in that free role, behind van Persie, that the modern game so craves. A 4-4-2 formation is now a rare commodity, especially when competing on the continent, and Rooney has been asked to adapt his playing style to fulfil this requirement by dropping deeper into a five-man midfield.
However, putting sentiment aside, ask yourselves this: Why try and mould a forward player into an attacking midfielder, when you could cash in on a striker who could command a substantial fee and bring in a ready-made replacement? There is a wealth of attacking midfield talent in Europe which we wouldn't have to break the bank for; just look at what Michu has done since his summer arrival at Swansea.
Also Rooney's goals would need replacing, and a certain in- form Bundesliga striker fits the bill almost perfectly. Robert Lewandowski has been a United transfer target for some time now, with rumours suggesting a summer move is imminent. His movement along the forward line means he could add the energy and work ethic that would fit in with Ferguson's ethos, and he'd be an instant hit with fans. Another reason the Polish hitman could fill a void left by an outgoing Rooney is a potential link-up with Kagawa once again. In Dortmund's 2011/12 title-winning campaign, the Japanese international helped himself to 17 goals and 13 assists in all competitions, largely thanks to his interplay with Lewandowski.
The 24-year-old striker has been outspoken in the media when not selected by Dortmund, but that will be addressed by our beloved chieftain, who likes nothing more than a challenge of nurturing young, but slightly temperamental talent. In fact he thrives upon it. If all this becomes conjecture, and Rooney remains at Old Trafford, continuing to form a formidable partnership with van Persie, and the Red Devils regain what is rightfully ours from those noisy neighbours, I will be a happy man. However, knowing the mercenary tendencies our American hierarchy are prone to, if we are to build for the future and Sir Alex is to leave his eventual successor a side capable of continuing what he so proudly built, we are likely to have to sell before we buy. I am just a realist. Despite Rooney's contract disputes back in 2010, when he doubted United's ambitions in the transfer market, I am a huge admirer of the Liverpudlian.
Nonetheless, with a plethora of young talent waiting in the wings and potential exciting squad additions, I believe this summer is the right time to bring down the curtain on Rooney's successful nine-year spell at the club, and use the transfer fee he commands to build a brighter future for Manchester United. Sir Alex won't leave until he has laid solid foundations for future success, and this final masterstroke could be the key to a happy retirement for him.