The fact Wayne Rooney could leave Manchester United isn't a shock. The possibility has been bantered about ever since he was left out of the starting lineup against Real Madrid in the Champions League. Arsenal emerging as a potential landing spot is much more of a surprise.
The retiring Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed Rooney requested a transfer after the campaign. Instead of denying the link between the longtime United star and his club, manager Arsene Wenger would only say he couldn't discuss it, reports Husmukh Kerai of Goal.com.
"Look, I'm not in a position today to speak about any transfer targets. What I am focused on is the short term and after the Newcastle game I give you answers about these questions," the Frenchman told reporters.
When pressed as to whether he could ever see such a star swap Old Trafford for the Emirates, Wenger added: "I just told you!"
The fact Wenger wouldn't rule out a move is news in itself. It's commonplace for managers to flatly deny rumors and speculation, especially during the campaign. The Arsenal boss wasn't willing to go that far when it comes to Rooney—at least not yet.
After enduring a season in which they lacked a true striker to lead the attack, Rooney would be an ideal fit for the Gunners. Perhaps that's why Wenger isn't ready to strike down the link without taking a closer look at how it could help the club.
Most likely, Rooney would assume a lead striker role with Arsenal in a 4-5-1 formation. He held the same position at United before Robin van Persie arrived from the Gunners to take it.
That swap would become an interesting side note to the story, should Rooney take Van Persie's spot at the Emirates one year later.
Rooney atop the formation would allow other Gunners to play their more natural roles. Theo Walcott would play on the wing with Santi Cazorla in central midfield. Wenger could then rotate between Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski on the other side or search for a natural winger opposite Walcott.
It's impossible to overstate the importance of having a reliable goal scorer leading the offense. Arsenal used a committee approach throughout the campaign and while it was very successful at times, not having a go-to striker cost them an even better season.
Rooney would immediately fill that void and give Arsenal a major boost heading into next season. It would also keep him away from another Premier League rival, which is important, too.
Arsenal still has work to do in the final match of the campaign in terms of earning a Champions League berth. That will probably play a crucial role in whether or not Rooney becomes a realistic target over the summer.
As for now, Wenger isn't ruling out the possibility.