Things are happening fast at Old Trafford. Very fast.
On Wednesday morning, barely 12 hours after rumours surfaced that Sir Alex Ferguson was contemplating imminent retirement, the Manchester United manager did, in fact, announce his exit (via bbc.co). Then on Thursday, the Premier League champions revealed David Moyes would be joining the club on a six-year contract (via skysports.com).
Beyond the “end of an era” storylines that have been written as all of this has transpired is another matter of great importance to United, another narrative: “What happens to Wayne Rooney?”
Ever since the 27-year-old was benched to start the second leg of United’s Champions League Round of 16 tie against Real Madrid, speculation has been rife that the forward would be leaving Old Trafford in the summer. Two weeks ago, it was reported Rooney had requested a transfer, and with Moyes now set to replace Ferguson, it’s unclear if the player and new manager would even be able to repair old enmities.
In 2007, Moyes sued Rooney following the publication of the latter’s autobiography, My Story So Far, in which the Scot was alleged to have leaked a private conversation to the Liverpool Echo.
The 50-year-old received a significant damages payment, and while the two are said to have buried the hatchet in 2009, Rooney has continued to be persona non grata at Everton, the club Moyes will be departing as he makes the switch to United.
On Wednesday, Rooney fed the gossip machine even further when he deleted the “Manchester United player” reference from his Twitter profile.
But if he was to leave United, the team he joined from Everton in 2004, just where would he end up?
Paris-Saint Germain is probably his likeliest destination given the resources available to the moneybags Ligue 1 side.
But with Zlatan Ibrahimovic said to be pondering a move back to Juventus, PSG could soon find themselves with a need up top as well.
Last month, former PSG advisor Michael Moulin went public with a claim that a deal for Rooney had already been agreed, telling Sport.fr (via Metro), “I announce to you from trusted sources—Rooney to PSG is done. He will be at PSG next season.”
But Bayern Munich is a possible destination as well, and as the Ferguson rumour mill went into top gear on Tuesday, it was also reported that the Bundesliga winners would be willing to pay upward of £30 million for Rooney ahead of next season (per Mirror Online).
Pep Guardiola will be succeeding Jupp Heynckes as Bayern manager in a few weeks, and the former Barcelona boss will no doubt be keen to bring in some of his own personnel, Rooney perhaps among them.
And then there is Chelsea.
Jose Mourinho is expected to make his Stamford Bridge return at the end of the season, and with Rooney unsettled at United, it would almost be surprising if the Portuguese didn’t put in an offer for the former PFA Player of the Year.
Rooney has also previously admitted that Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole is his “best friend in football,” and in an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan last July, he stated he’d “take a bullet” for his England teammate (per the Daily Mail).
Of course, Rooney’s future will mostly hinge on what he and Moyes decide together. If the incoming United boss can convince the versatile attacker that he remains central to the setup, there may be a new contract in store for the England international instead of a bidding war for his services.
United have delivered no shortage of surprises the last few days. Perhaps there’s another one in store regarding Rooney.