Three footballers walked onto a pitch; an Englishman, a Brazilian and an Argentinian. What the punchline is to the gag depends on your feelings as to whether a glass of water is half full or half empty.
It could be that the three became the greatest attacking trio the universe had ever witnessed. Terrible songs and folk dances involving poles and sticks would be penned to ensure their names were immortalized for generations to come.
Then again, an almighty scrap could just as easily kickoff in front of 100,000 at the Camp Nou within seconds of the first game starting, with all three furious footballers accusing the others of ruining their respective sporting lives.
Wayne Rooney turning up at Barcelona would be a fantastic prospect for the player himself, English football in general and for all those who enjoy watching what wonderful chaos might unfold at the Camp Nou.
Dispassionately speaking, there is no solid reason why the Manchester United man could not fit in perfectly well alongside Neymar and Messi in a forward trident. Rooney is very well respected in Spain for being a committed, physical footballer in possession of technique—a quality lacking from most of the striker’s countrymen.
Many Barca fans would relish the prospect of a footballer who is tall enough to ride a roller coaster and will not come off second best in a shoulder barge.
The Englishman’s flexibility could see the footballer taking up a position on the right-hand side of the front three, with cover from the tireless Dani Alves allowing the striker to drift in towards the centre of the park and have the odd pot shot on goal.
Rooney could also give Messi the occasional comfort break from the Argentinian’s front-man role, thus keeping opposition defenders on their tippy-toes for 90 minutes. Neymar, would then be permitted to strut his Brazilian stuff on the left and contemplate a new haircut for the week to come, whilst Rooney and Messi do the legwork.
That all sounds very simple, but drills, practice and communication would be the keys to such a tactical set up working smoothly. The latter would be the biggest issue from the start with Rooney attempting to have his say with his forward partners through the medium of mime.
The possibility of passes going to nowhere, teammates being cut out and footballers running into each other to a sound track of whistles and honks are all too feasible.
Of course, there’s also the matter of what impact Rooney’s presence at Barcelona would have in the dressing room.
Thiago Alcantara already has the hump over having to cool his heels behind the likes of Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta. Only Poseidon himself knows what would happen if seasoned, battle-scarred internationals like Cesc Fabregas and Pedro are left on the Barca bench, whilst a frowning Wayne Rooney tries to get a grip on the whole tiki-taka business.
A cheery optimist would say that a forward line of Messi, Neymar and Rooney would be a glorious prospect and one to give defenders Freddy Kruger style terrors the night before meetings with Barcelona.
But then again, it could be a disruptive, unnecessary experiment that Barca could well do without. It all depends on your approach to a glass of water, really.