Of the various transfer rumours circulating around Arsenal in this still-young transfer window, one of the most baffling seems to involve Manchester United's Wayne Rooney heading to the south of England for the first time in his career.
Despite his undeniable talent, showcased by goals ranging from this (his first in the Premier League—look away, Gunners fans) to this (a perhaps more famous, but equally spellbinding effort against Manchester City), Rooney's proposed move to the capital just doesn't seem to fit, like a square peg in a circular hole.
To start with, there's his pay packet. At £250,000 a week (via the Evening Standard), if Arsenal were to sign him at that price...well, they just wouldn't. Rooney would likely have to take some sort of pay-cut, given the status of the rest of Arsenal's highest earners; to put it into perspective, rumours have only Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott earning over £100k a week.
And while no official figures are abound, it is obvious that without removing at least a few names from the wage bill—the likes of Marouane Chamakh, Sebastian Squillaci et al, who always come up when discussing Arsenal's personnel deadwood—signings like this are never likely to surface.
On that note, is Rooney even worth paying £250,000 a week for? I suppose if you look at some of the names that United's cross-town rivals City pay that much a week, a la Carlos Tevez, you could suggest so—but his performances, as well as his systematic under-use by Sir Alex Ferguson this season, would hint towards a decline in performance and quality. So there's also that to think about.
But hypothetically, think if the financial standpoint was taken care of—there are still a few pitfalls to take care of before considering Rooney for Arsenal.
Firstly, the age-old dilemma: where do you play Wayne Rooney?
He's been utilised as a leading man in a forward duo as well as a supporting, second striker; he's been dropped into midfield as well as deployed on the flanks under Ferguson. Most would argue his success has been greatest playing just off the centre-forward.
Which leads to a question about Arsene Wenger's system at Arsenal, and how Rooney would be able to fit in.
Arsenal's system utilised throughout the 2012/13 campaign involves a midfield trio—two wide men in an attacking role and a lone striker. Although the players occupying those roles change, as of late in the season, we had Santi Cazorla on the left with Walcott opposite him, Podolski as the centre forward and, behind Podolski, Tomas Rosicky in a deeper attacking midfield role.
Which forward would you prefer Arsene Wenger to sign this summer?
It's arguable that he would be too deep to be fully effective in the "Rosicky role," and cutting in from wide positions has never been his greatest asset. And while he can, and has, played very effectively as a centre-forward, his holding work, as well as his vision, have been ignored in this role.
And while it's completely possible that Wenger would adapt his system to fit Rooney, it is more likely that he would make changes for a player (or players) who are younger, cheaper, and just as likely and capable to improve Arsenal for next year.
Despite vigorous interest from Juventus, Real Madrid's Argentine forward Gonzalo Higuain remains both available and, according to Metro, interested in a move to Ashburton Grove; the same can be said of Fiorentina's Montenegrin trequartista Stevan Jovetic (via the Daily Express).
While both players would possess price-tags likely upwards of £20 million, their wage bills would probably not burn through Arsenal's wallet the way Rooney's would.
And yes, Rooney has over a decade's worth of Premier League, Champions League and international experience. There is no denying that he is, by now, a seasoned veteran (despite not turning 28 until October), and by rights he should be entering the best years of what is already a storied career.
Maybe Arsene Wenger is the man to bring those years out of Rooney; just in the way he helped Robin van Persie hit his prime in such magnificent fashion a couple of years ago.
But for Rooney's price, and when there are other options available, the risk seems too great. This is set to be Arsenal's biggest transfer window in a long time—that is not reason to forgo some of the sensible transfer policy Wenger is famous for.
Rooney has the quality for Arsenal, but he's just not the right fit.