Manchester United Transfers: 5 Players Who Could Replace Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney’s sumptuous first-half performance against Aston Villa on Monday evening saw the Liverpudlian forward return to his sparkling best, after a sub-par display against West Ham last Wednesday, to help Manchester United claim their 20th league title.
Rooney dictated play from a deeper midfield role, collecting the ball in his own half for the opening two goals before launching passes that were key ingredients to Robin van Persie’s finishes.
But most importantly, Rooney looked to be enjoying football again.
That was until the 72nd minute, when Sir Alex Ferguson decided to take him off before the full-time whistle, replacing him with Danny Welbeck once again.
The Old Trafford faithful sang his name in unison, but all their harmonizing did was to underline the fact that Rooney’s future at Manchester United is far from secure.
If he were to leave in the summer, which player would Ferguson look to replace him with? Here are his best options.
Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Atletico Madrid’s Colombian talisman has had a scintillating 24 months in La Liga, notching 49 goals. Ferguson has been impressed enough that he is apparently pondering a bid for the forward.
According to the Daily Mail, “Ferguson has joined the hunt for Atletico Madrid’s £47million-rated striker [and is] prepared to let striker Javier Hernandez move to Madrid as part of the deal.”
It would take a huge sum of money to prize Falcao away from the Spanish capital. But if United sell Rooney, Falcao would be the perfect replacement due to his pace, technique and wonderful positional and finishing ability.
David Ramos/Getty Images
Robert Lewandowski has been linked with the new Premier League champions for the past few seasons, and having witnessed Shinji Kagawa’s slow emergence at Old Trafford over the last 12 months, he will be tempted to push for a move to Manchester sooner rather than later.
The Polish forward has given United another reason to step up their pursuit of his talents, as he currently sits atop the German Bundesliga scoring charts with 23 strikes, despite Dortmund’s feeble attempt to reclaim their title.
According to the Daily Express, “Dortmund value Lewandowski at around £18 million and the club will be keen to cash in rather than seeing him walk out for nothing.”
Claudio Villa/Getty Images
But Cavani might be better suited to Old Trafford, where the lanky Uruguayan’s work rate would be adored by the United faithful.
The Napoli forward also has an unerring calmness in front of goal and enjoys bringing his teammates into the game through his fabulous approach play.
Cavani would make a perfect replacement for Rooney. Only, he has his own hair and lots of it.
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
The Welsh wizard has taken the Premier League by storm this season. His virtuoso displays have almost single-handedly kept Tottenham in the hunt for a top-four berth.
But if Spurs were to miss out on Champions League qualification, Bale might decide that his future lies elsewhere, and Old Trafford would be the perfect location for his skills.
Under Andres Villas-Boas, Bale has adapted into an eclectic attacking threat who can play anywhere across the forward line—so much so that his style reminds me of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Bale has also proved that he is one of the most talented players in the league. At United, he'd be able to battle regularly for Champions League honours. That's an incentive for a footballer if I’ve ever heard one.
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Shinji Kagawa’s progress in United red has forced Wayne Rooney even further to the sidelines at Old Trafford The ex-Everton star should be worried about more than Robin van Persie’s influence on the team.
Kagawa has recently been stuck on the left flank, but for him to flourish, he needs to play behind the front man—a position that Rooney has adopted this season.
Ferguson now appears to prefer Kagawa in the role, and the Scot even decided to sacrifice Rooney instead of the Japanese international at West Ham United last Wednesday when United were in dire need of an equalising goal.
Could that have been the final death knell for Rooney’s career at United?
Kagawa floats between the midfield and striking slots like a mischievous ghost, plus he is subtler and nimbler than Rooney and has already started to show that he can handle the rigors of the English game.
Ferguson will be hoping that Kagawa can add more goals to his repertoire next season, and if he does, he could make Rooney expendable in the process.