The exit door at Old Trafford appears likely to be having a bit of use over the coming weeks. With David Gill leaving, closely followed by Sir Alex Ferguson, Paul Scholes will probably hope to slip out unnoticed. News on Sunday however suggests there may be a further departure, and this one will certain not slip under the radar.
After the the final home match of his twenty-odd tear career at Old Trafford, Ferguson has confirmed what the newspapers had been saying for a while now. Wayne Rooney has handed in a transfer request. The player’s PR people have been at pains not to let confirmation out, but the manager apparently felt under no such similar constraints. For those watching, the brief hug between player and manager, at the title celebrations was of the ‘official’ rather than warm type, and as news leaks out that the pair have fell out supposedly over Rooney’s ‘lifestyle.’ The reason becomes a little clearer. In another circumstance, with Ferguson leaving and a new manager arriving, it would be an opportunity for a rethink by the player. Unfortunately the relations between Rooney and the imminently arriving Moyes, are somewhat less than cordial. It was also interesting – some may say significant - to note Ferguson’s rider to his confirmation of the transfer request, when he said “we won’t let him go.” One would have thought such a decision would be for Moyes to consider. If this presages a regime where Ferguson seeks to be a back seat driver at the club, it may be an uncomfortable ride for the new manager.
It is of course entirely possible that Ferguson’s rebuttal of the request is just the sort of thing that any club would say when presented with a scenario of one of their stars wanting away. The very least it would do – if not draw the player back into check – is to up the ante for the bidding. If that is the case, from where would these bids arise?
Bayern Munich have been linked with Rooney and there’s speculation that his people have had preliminary talks. That said, with Robert Lewandowski apparently on the way to Bavaria from Dortmund, that game may no longer be in play. PSG have also been linked, and it’s certain that there’s sufficient funds in the Paris club to fund the deal, especially as the wanderlust of Zlaten Ibrahimovich appears to be kicking in again, with a move to Milan on the cards. They may have over fish to fry however. The other possibility may be a little more interesting for the English game.
A few days ago, I heard of gossip that Chelsea were keen to pursue Rooney, and that Roman Abramovich had personally signed-off on the move, with sufficient funds allocated. As we were entering the full flow of silly season transfer rumour however, I have to see that I was somewhat less than totally convinced. Since then however, a few other things have happened which make what was then the downright impossible, now just somewhat unlikely. Firstly, there is the confirmation that Rooney is seeking to move. Clearly, this is a key component.
Secondly, there are the persistent rumours that over in Madrid, a certain Cristiano Ronaldo is less than totally settled at Real, and is resisting the opportunity to sign a new contract. With the club yet to appoint a successor to Mourinho, the player is thought to be happy to bide his time and see who is appointed, and who may be joining him on the playing staff before he commits. If he is less than convinced, his oft mentioned ‘love’ for Manchester United leaves him open to an approach from Old Trafford. With the tantalizing possibility of the Portuguese’s return, and the likelihood that, with Robin van Persie already firmly ensconced in red, there may not be room for both Rooney and Ronaldo. Plus, the brass received for selling Rooney will go some way towards the estimable fee that Madrid will doubtless demand.
Thirdly, Mourinho is said to be scheduled to rock up at Chelsea on or about 1st July, and has been promised a pot of Roman’s roubles to take the club back to the top of the English game. Securing a big name like Rooney, would be just the splash that Mourinho likes as a statement of intent. Ah, you may say, but a bit like PSG, don’t Chelsea have other irons in the fire as well. Well, that is – or perhaps, was – true. Atletico Madrid’s Falcao was apparently Chelsea’s big target for the summer, but if the current rumours are true, it seems likely that a move to Monaco may be just a little bit short of finalized, as the player appears to be blanking the west London club’s approach.
Now, there’s a bit of an unwritten rule that you don’t sell your best players to your rivals. It’s a bit of a no brainer really. But if the club feel that the player’s time is up, and Moyes – or Ferguson – decide to get shot of him, as being more trouble than he’s worth, with or without the option of getting Ronaldo, it may be that they have to bite the bullet and take the money to invest in a more committed player. It is possible of course that as a couple of years ago, the palyer will be persuaded to stay, but given the apparent unresolved antipathy between Rooney and Moyes, that may not be achievable. Just now, the bookies are offering 1-3 on that the player won’t kick of next season in United red, and Chelsea are favourites for the signing. Who knows, it may just turn out that this was one of those crazy rumours that turned out to be true.