Is this to be the summer of Wayne Rooney’s discontent?
Numerous reports from both England and France would seem to suggest it will. Rumblings of a soured relationship between the attacker and Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson may finally take rumours of a parting to fever pitch in the next few weeks and months.
In a Tuesday interview with French television service Le 10 Sport, former Paris Saint-Germain advisor Michel Moulin suggested a deal that would see Rooney join the Ligue 1 giants was already complete.
“I announce to you from trusted sources—Rooney to PSG is done. He will be at PSG next season,” he said (via Express).
And in comments made to Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport, PSG director of football Leonardo would neither confirm nor deny his side’s interest in Rooney, or in any other player for that matter.
Those cryptic remarks, and the claims of a former employee citing another, unnamed source, are not a lot to go on in a story of this magnitude. Had Rooney not been benched for United’s Round of 16 second-leg encounter with Real Madrid, they likely would never have surfaced at all.
But Rooney did indeed start that match on the bench, and given his history at Old Trafford, it was never an omission that was going to be overlooked.
This sort of talk, after all, isn’t exactly new.
In October 2010, Rooney astonished United management when he announced he wanted to leave the club, citing a lack of investment in players. Cristiano Ronaldo had been sold to Real Madrid in 2009, and a few months earlier Chelsea had ended the Red Devils' three-year title run.
Unsurprisingly shaken by the news, Ferguson spent a few days in closed-door meetings before convincing the then-24-year-old to agree a new contract. That put the matter to rest, but the incident was so odd, so strangely sudden, that you just got the feeling it was only a matter of time before something similar happened again.
And here we are.
With only 14 goals in all competitions so far this season, Rooney is on course for one of his poorest campaigns in a United shirt. Of course, he has played zero of his 31 matches in a traditional striker’s role, and on Sunday against Stoke he stood in the centre of midfield alongside Michael Carrick.
If he truly is unhappy, there’s a case to be made that the change of position that came—coincidentally—with his 2010 contract hasn’t really helped, and through the process of a transfer negotiation he might be of the mind that he could guarantee himself regular football at the fulcrum of the attack.
But we’re not at that point just now. At least not yet.
Also on Tuesday, PSG manager Carlo Ancelotti told French outlet L'Equipe he didn’t believe his side were pondering a move for the 27-year-old.
“Wayne Rooney is one of the best strikers in the world,” he said. “I think he is impossible to buy. He is an idol for Manchester United.” (Telegraph)
For what it’s worth, PSG are being linked with just about any player thought by the press to be in an uncomfortable position at his current club. Wednesday’s papers, for example, had the Ligue 1 leaders linked with Manchester City’s Samir Nasri and Newcastle’s Yohan Cabaye—both France internationals. (Independent)
As long as PSG are the force in the transfer market they’ve shown themselves to be the past two years, they will always be an easy destination for the press to attach to their gossip stories—and for agents to use as they look to increase the leverage of their clients.
Ferguson, for his part, has rubbished any notion of a Rooney exit. In a recent BBC press conference, he said:
It’s absolute rubbish what I read in the paper. I’ve banned two papers from the press conferences, and they won’t get back here until they apologize. There’s absolutely no issue between Wayne Rooney and I. To suggest that we don’t talk to each other on the training ground is absolute nonsense.
To that end, several reports have surfaced indicating Rooney will actually sign a new contract at United in the summer—an act that would surely put this matter to bed. (Independent)
Temporarily, at least. Because goodness knows we’ve been here before.