n seasons gone by, few teams in the world would have passed up the opportunity to have a player like Wayne Rooney in their staring XI.
With 27 goals in 32 Premier League starts in 2011-12—a tally bettered only by Robin van Persie—the Manchester United forward rightfully earned his place in the PFA team of the year.
Two seasons prior, in 2009-10, he netted 26 goals in 32 starts, earning the prolific Liverpudlian the PFA Players' and Fans' Player of the Year Awards and the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year.
In that same season, however, Rooney appeared to make some duplicitous contract negotiations, apparently refusing to extend his Utd contract with an eye on a move across town to Manchester City.
In the end, the transfer request was only successful in leveraging a highly lucrative new five-year contract, with Utd caving in under the fear of losing such a talent to a rival.
Fast forward to this season and Rooney's latest transfer request, and the 27-year-old doesn't appear to have quite so much leverage.
Not only is Rooney shackled to a contract that will keep him at Old Trafford until June 2015 (if "shackled" is the right word for a man paid £250,000 a week to play football!) but the number of clubs who would be willing and able to sign him is much smaller.
At the age of just 27, with ten Premier League seasons under his belt, Rooney's stock seems to have taken a drastic fall.
This season (and arguably the one before) he has been overshadowed by the brilliance of Robin van Persie, a man who is also no stranger to the occasional injury.
At last summer's Euro 2012, it was injury that was blamed for the player looking a shadow of his former self. And when injury strikes, it appears to have an adverse effect on his fitness levels.
Time and time again, Sir Alex Ferguson has expressed his concern for Rooney's weight and match fitness. "The frame he's got, the type of person he is, he needs to play all the time," the manager said in December. "He's a strongly built lad and when he misses two games it takes him three games to come back," he added for extra emphasis a few days later (via The Daily Mail).
With these factors in mind, the number of clubs who are able to afford his transfer fee and hefty £250,000 weekly wages will far outweigh the number who are willing to take him on.
Will Rooney leave Manchester Utd this summer?
So, who might the interested parties be right now?
Manchester City were certainly keen to steal another striker from their more successful neighbours a few years ago, but there has been no indication that he is currently on their wish list.
In light of Financial Fair Play regulations, City are one of a number of nouveau riche sides who will think twice about spending up to £57 million on a player who cannot necessarily guarantee outstanding performances every week (valuation via transfermarkt.co.uk).
Rafa Benitez believes Chelsea will spend €100 million on new talent in the summer, on "three to four players" (via The Guardian). A swoop for Rooney is quite possible, but it is unknown whether likely-new-manager Jose Mourinho is interested, or whether the club would prefer to spend their money on foreign talent like Edinson Cavani or Radamel Falcao. It also bares mentioning that The Blues have more than enough attacking talent on their books right now, too.
Falcao may actually be the main reason Rooney will not be considered by newly promoted Ligue 1 side Monaco, as they appear to have secured the Colombian's services (via The Sun).
Earlier this season, we were told that a transfer to Paris Saint-Germain was a "done deal," but there have been no recent signs that Rooney will be hopping on the Eurostar any time soon. With France's impending 75 percent tax laws, Ligue 1 may not be such an attractive destination for the 27-year-old anyway.
There has also been some recent suggestion that Rooney could join the most fearsome team that has yet to kick a ball: Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich. Yet club sporting director Matthias Sammer has pooh-poohed the move, with the damning statement: "I don't know what Rooney would bring to the Bundesliga" (via The Guardian).
Assuming the moneyed climes of Anzhi Makhachkala are unappealing—and recent reports of Newcastle's interest are unfounded—this might only leave the traditional Spanish powerhouses of Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Rooney is still admired in Spain and Real president Florentino Perez is a long-time admirer of his. Barcelona, meanwhile, look set to lose David Villa and may be looking for a powerful striker to kick-start a summer rebuild of a squad that was sent back to the drawing board by Bayern Munich. The Express certainly believe this may be the case.
Rooney is a world-class striker, but his excessive value and wages may have made him a victim of his own success. It's possible any of the clubs mentioned will make a dramatic swoop for him, but it is equally likely that the Manchester Utd fans who booed him during last week's trophy presentation will be forced to fall back in love with him.