In the wake of David Beckham’s successful introduction to life at Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United star Wayne Rooney was linked with a potential move to the French capital last week by The Times.
The French giants’ hierarchy are reportedly keen to pair him with talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic for next season, and the England international now looks to be headed towards the Old Trafford exit, according to BBC Sport.
Rooney, despite scoring 13 goals so far this season, has been put in the shade somewhat by Robin Van Persie’s arrival at the club. But there is no guarantee he would fit into this PSG side if he did move to the capital.
Not least without a few changes on and off the pitch at the Parc des Princes.
Speculation continues regarding the future of the mercurial Swede who has been linked with a move to former club Juventus most recently by Sky Sports. But his supreme strike rate of 26 goals in 33 appearances so far this season is surely too important to pass up.
Particularly in favour of a player who, in recent seasons, has not scaled the same heights as Ibra’s prolific scoring exploits.
Instead, the capital club would more likely jettison unsettled playmaker Javier Pastore, who has failed to adapt to the team since his big-money move from Palermo two seasons ago.
The Argentine international tried talking his way into a move to AC Milan late last year but his recent performances on the pitch are improved from his early season form. However, he is still struggling to live up to his princely price tag and even costlier salary.
Ibrahimovic is a player who has divided opinion wherever he has gone, so for him to be experiencing such criticism is normal. Those “hecklers,” as coach Carlo Ancelotti branded the fans critical of his performances, need a reality check.
Twenty-six goals in 33 appearances in your first season in a new league, a new country and essentially a brand new team, is a sensational achievement for any striker. Would Rooney realistically fare better than the former AC Milan man?
The criticisms of the Swede that he is too dominant over the team’s style of play, whilst understandable, do not mean that it is actually his fault.
Ibra was bought in to score goals, and he has done that. The problem is that the team, until recently, have not had anyone else able to score goals when he has been unavailable.
Again that is not his fault.
The team has become too comfortable relying on Ibrahimovic’s presence and lethal instincts in front of goal, and substituted for Rooney, the team would arguably struggle more.
Both Rooney and Ibra are similar in that they like to search for the ball and drop back into midfield at times, at least in recent seasons. So an effective partnership between the two appears unlikely on recent form.
PSG also have Lucas Moura, who can play a similar role to Rooney when paired with the Swede, and his presence through the middle in his current form would arguably benefit Ancelotti’s side more.
Rooney is not likely to settle for a starting berth out wide and a front pairing of Moura, and the 27-year-old lacks the same physical presence that Ibra brings. Rooney’s potential role as a focal point of the team is also questionable given his tendency to drop back—the same problem that has led to the criticism of Ibrahimovic.
Instead, it appears that the best solution for PSG would be to buy an out-and-out goalscorer in the mould of a Falcao or an Edinson Cavani, playing Ibrahimovic, or Rooney, in a more withdrawn role.
In his current form, both in terms of his goal tally and creativity, there is no question that Ibra is the better candidate for that role.
But much depends on his happiness at the club and his willingness to share the limelight with another big-name goalscorer who would likely significantly decrease the Swede’s impressive scoring figures next season.
A PSG attacking unit of Ibrahimovic playing behind another predator with Ezequiel Lavezzi and Moura providing the ammunition from the wings would be a frightening proposition.
Add to that a midfield marshalled by Blaise Matuidi, possibly with the withdrawn creativity of Pastore but more likely with the added insurance of a Thiago Motta or Clement Chantome, and it paints a tantalising picture.
It could easily be the same but with Rooney in place of Ibrahimovic. However, it seems likely that for both to play in the same side, Pastore and Beckham would be the obvious players to make way in the current side.
Pastore is on thin ice in terms of his compatibility, but Beckham stands no chance of prolonging his stay in Paris if Rooney arrives. The Englishman faces an uphill task anyway as another summer of heavy spending, potentially including his compatriot Rooney, beckons.
Above all, though, the team needs another out-and-out striker to go alongside Ibrahimovic.
A Falcao, Cavani or perhaps a Gonzalo Higuain would bring the best out of the Swede’s dual functionality as a scorer and provider, whilst quelling the team’s need to solely rely on Ibra to win matches.
For that reason alone, strikers in that bracket should be closer to the top of the club’s wish list than Rooney.
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