Wayne Rooney is a player who polarizes opinion. To some, he is the best English player of his generation; a dynamic striker who can operate anywhere on the pitch, explosive and a scorer of great goals.
To others, he is a liability. A 27-year-old who was clearly unfit at the start of the season, is prone to fits of petulance and has a chequered reputation off the pitch.
To them, he is not worth the £250,000 a week (The Sun) that Manchester United agreed to pay him in 2010.
For many, he will always be the English wunderkind—the next big thing who exploded onto the scene with Everton as a teenage prodigy. The goal below firmly cemented the name Wayne Rooney in the public consciousness, after the then‑16-year-old ended Arsenal’s 30-match unbeaten run in the Premier League with his thundering strike.
The Telegraph’s Trevor Haylett, wrote of Rooney that day:
“The incredible run is over at last, left in pieces by a 16-year-old with precocity, dynamite in his boots and a dazzling future ahead.”
Rooney’s performances went on to earn him a call-up to the England national team and, much to the chagrin of Everton fans, a move to Manchester United (via the Daily Mail).
Since moving to Old Trafford in 2004, Rooney has scored 197 goals in 402 performances (ManUtd.com).
His most illustrious Premier League period coming in the 2011/12 season, where he scored 27 goals in 34 domestic games for the club (Transfermarkt).
This goal, against Manchester City, shows Rooney in his pomp in 2011. The striker has since admitted (Daily Mail) that it was the best goal of his career so far.
However, recently performances from United’s No. 10 have been on the wane and it’s time for him to leave Old Trafford.
This season he has played just 27 Premier League matches for the Red Devils, five of which he started on the bench. All with a return of 12 goals.
It’s true that the arrival of Robin van Persie has pushed Rooney out of the picture as United’s go-to striker and into a deep-lying midfield role.
But it’s not just the lack of goals that suggest Rooney is a player in decline.
In March of this year, Ferguson made public his concerns about Rooney’s fitness levels. Branding a gashed thigh which Rooney received against Fulham on August 25 as “a blessing,” so that he could spend more time in the gym (The Independent).
And it was the player’s omission from Manchester United’s Champions League round of 16, second-leg tie with Real Madrid that spoke volumes about his place in the Old Trafford lineup.
Left on the bench until the 73rd minute, Rooney was deemed surplus to requirements as United lost 1-2.
Perhaps it’s in comparisons to former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo that offer the harshest reality of Rooney’s fall from grace. At the peak of physical fitness, Ronaldo is undoubtedly one of the world’s best strikers and has gone on to eclipse his achievements at Old Trafford with his scoring exploits for Real Madrid in La Liga.
It’s hard to imagine that Ferguson would ever leave Ronaldo on the bench in such a crucial game.
This is not the first time Rooney has asked to leave the Premier League side. The same thing happened in 2010 when Rooney declared that Manchester United no longer matched his ambitions (via The Guardian) and needed to bring in higher-caliber players. This lead to a turnaround two days later when the forward inked a new five-year deal (the Telegraph).
With two years remaining on his current contract, perhaps now is the time to sell. At 27 years old, Manchester United could sell Rooney now for upwards of £25 million. A fee that would certainly diminish should he play at Old Trafford until his deal runs out in 2015.
United would also save £250,000 a week if Rooney departs. Which, over the course of the next two years amounts to £26 million. That’s a lot of money for someone who has professed his desire to leave the club.
And clubs with deep pockets have already proclaimed their interests in signing the England international. Chelsea, Bayern Munich (the Mirror), Paris St Germain (the Sun) and Barcelona (the Mirror) are thought to be among his suitors. Surely it’s better to cash in rather than keep an unhappy Wayne Rooney.
Adding a further question mark over Rooney’s United future was this week’s news that David Moyes will be taking over as Manchester United manager when Sir Alex Ferguson retires (ManUtd.com) at the end of the 2012/13 season.
Rooney came through the ranks in the Everton side that Moyes managed, he was sold to Manchester United by the Scottish manager and was later sued (the Telegraph) by the former Preston North End boss, following comments made about Moyes in the striker's autobiography, Wayne Rooney: My Story So Far.
This does not make for a very happy relationship and Rooney’s future at Old Trafford begs to be one of Moyes’ first challenges at the helm of United.
Finally, it is on Rooney’s Twitter page where the player has made clear his feelings on Manchester United this week. His personal bio was changed from “Manchester United Player” to “NikeUK Athlete”— the 27-year-old is obviously ready to leave Old Trafford behind.
Perhaps it is time for the Premier League champions to move on and bid him goodbye.