Wayne Rooney's time at Manchester United appears to be coming to an end. David Moyes' honeymoon period with the club also appears to be over. Sir Alex Ferguson's successor, far sooner than expected, will now have to make his first major decision at the club. Will he talk Rooney into staying, or will he allow the "angry and confused" star to leave?
The mantra of "no one player being bigger than a club" tends to lean towards the 27-year-old exiting the club in the very near future.
Red Devils' fans are rightly conflicted. Rooney cannot demand a place in the starting XI, that much is clear. That stance undermines the newly appointed manager, Moyes. On the other hand, there is no doubting his mercurial talents and his importance to the club and to the English international team.
With that in mind, Rooney will have no end of suitors. He is one of the best players in the Premier League and is capable of reaching the same heights as Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo in any given match.
If he is to leave his home for the last nine seasons, should Manchester United take the money and run, or should they look for a part exchange player plus cash deal?
If he was available for a free transfer tomorrow the queue to obtain his signature would be long and varied. It would surely contain the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, FC Bayern Munich, FC Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid amongst others.
Here, Bleacher Report looks at five potential swap deals involving Wayne Rooney that Manchester United could capitalize on, and improve the team at the same time.
United tabled a £25 million bid for the ex-Arsenal player before the entire Wayne Rooney saga moved into overdrive. While Barca rejected the initial bid, they might be interested to take Rooney in exchange for the Spanish international. David Villa has moved on to Atletico Madrid and Barca are now on the look out for an adaptable forward.
Fabregas, despite having played 96 games in two seasons for Barca, has not lived up to expectations in La Liga. He came to the Spanish league with over 300 Premier League games under his belt and was expected to slot straight into the Barca-style with some added EPL grit.
He has, however, been slow to adapt and is still some way behind Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta in the midfield pecking order.
He would be a perfect signing for United because he would bring vast experience and is exactly the kind of player they need in midfield. Fabregas is highly mobile, creative and energetic and would immediately give David Moyes' midfield an edge they have not had in many a year under his predecessor.
The deal would almost certainly be cost neutral in terms of club and the player's contracts.
Valuation: Straight Swap: Rooney for Fabregas
Ben Smith of the BBC first reported that Chelsea had bid for Wayne Rooney in a player plus cash deal involving either Juan Mata or David Luiz. The Blues later denied, on the club's official website, that any player was mentioned as part of the deal.
Now, taking transfer negotiations for what they are, it is very believable that players might have been mentioned as part of a possible transfer.
However, for United and in the cold hard light of day, neither Mata nor Luiz are players they should be interested in.
Manchester United's biggest problem area in in center midfield. They lack mobility, creativity, physicality and guile in that position. If David Moyes does not address this problem first then no other transfer, in or out of the club, matters.
Mata plays in the final third of the field. He is an expert at finding little holes and gaps in the defense and ghosting into them unmarked. At the moment, United have a couple of players who can play this role from, yes, Wayne Rooney to Shinji Kagawa to Nick Powell.
One must assume that if United are willing to sell Rooney then Kagawa will be promoted to first team regular from squad player. Bringing in a player like Mata therefore does not make all that much sense. It would, in the long run, stymie the career of the Japanese the club have put so much faith in.
Luiz's transfer makes no sense what-so-ever. United are well stocked at center-defense with Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and even Jonny Evans all arguably better than the Brazilian.
The one Chelsea player that United should be interested in as part of a potential swap deal is Ramires.
If United take only cash for Rooney, and allow him to join Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, they might as well wrap the Premier League trophy up in a big blue bow and send it down the M1 with the striker.
However, if Ramires goes the other way then United would significantly strengthen their team in midfield. The playing field would be evened out as far as the two clubs are concerned.
But, United would be getting the better deal because everyone knows that strikers win matches but defenses win titles.
Valuation: Player plus cash deal: Ramires plus £10 million for Rooney
In what amounted to his debut season, Verratti was highly impressive. He has become an important member of the PSG team. Carlo Ancellotti used him to great effect in a 4-2-2-2 style formation where the youngster was deployed as a defensive center midfielder.
This type of position suits him beautifully as he is a playmaking midfielder in the same vein as Andrea Pirlo, the player he is most often compared to.
Sky Sports have Manchester United as long time admirers of the midfielder.
Meanwhile in Paris, it is well known that PSG fans would love to have Rooney at their club. Before Edinson Cavani, a long term Chelsea target according to the Daily Star, joined PSG, their fans voted that Rooney was their ideal striking choice to partner Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Rooney could still yet be a transfer target for the cash-rich club despite the fact that Cavani has joined recently. PSG are at the beginning of a long journey and want to be linked with high profile players in an effort at building the club's world wide profile and reputation.
Think of what David Beckham's short cameo did for them in terms of profile last season and you get the picture. While Rooney is most definitely no media-driven show pony like Beckham was, he is most definitely the highest profile English player on the planet, and is therefore a player PSG wouldn't mind being linked to.
Valuation: Player plus cash deal: Verratti plus £5 million for Rooney
Sir Alex Ferguson was a known admirer of Luka Modric.
The Real Madrid star did not have the best of seasons during his debut bow at the Bernabeu last term. Modric, who joined Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur, endured a torrid time and was voted as the worst La Liga signing of the season by readers of Marca (h/t the Telegraph).
For casual viewers of La Liga, the only time Modric showed what he was capable of was against Manchester United in the Champions League. He shined when introduced as a substitute following Luis Nani's controversial red card for United.
Modric is a tireless worker, but possesses a silken touch, superb vision and phenomenal football-brain. He rarely makes the wrong decision on the pitch and is unafraid to take responsibility in dangerous areas of the pitch to initiate attacks.
Most importantly, he has huge Premier League experience and would slot straight into the United team. Madrid, having signed Isco from Malaga, are still looking for that Galactico-style signing and Rooney could fit the bill.
The Daily Mail reported in June that Carlo Ancelotti, Real Madrid's new manager, was more than interested in bringing Rooney to the Bernabeu and was ready to launch a £30 million bid.
This is a potential transfer than could solve a lot of problems for both teams.
Valuation: Straight swap: Modric for Rooney
Real Madrid are well-known, long-term admirers of Gareth Bale and the Sun has recently linked them with a world record £85 million bid for the midfielder. John Cross, writing for the Mirror, then went one step better and has linked United with a similar bid for Bale.
Reports now coming out in numerous media outlets have Manchester United making a £60 million bid for Bale.
The answer to both club's questions could be as simple as contacting each other and organizing a swap deal involving players and cash.
Next season will be of massive importance to the England striker. The Three Lions will be playing in the World Cup next summer—if results go as expected—and Rooney will be central to all their efforts.
In short, he needs to play regularly.
He needs first-team football next term as badly as he needed it in 2010 when he was simply phenomenal.
Bale, on the other hand, does not have a World Cup to worry about and probably never will have.
The Spurs-option might work out the best deal for all involved.
There can be little doubt that Chelsea would become overwhelming favorites to lift the Premier League in May should Rooney join. Likewise, his potential transfer to Arsenal would immediately propel the Gunners into title challenging consideration.
The same simply cannot be said about Tottenham Hotspur.
There, Rooney would be guaranteed first team football, which would be ideal preparation for the World Cup. In a perverse twist he would also benefit from not having to play in the Champions League and would therefore be more rested come June 2014.
Spurs and Andre Villas-Boas would use him sparingly in the Europa League. They could also use the extra cash from the transfer to bolster the team and could become serious contenders. One of the great misconceptions about this potential deal is that Spurs would not be able to afford Rooney's wages.
That's a basic difference of £70,000 per week or £3.64 million per year. If Spurs were to sell Bale to United in a player plus cash deal they would be more than able to afford the England star.
Meanwhile for Bale, he would get the move to a big-club he craves and deserves and David Moyes would get one problem out of the club whilst being backed massively with a marquee signing.
Rooney for Bale, might just make the most sense of all potential transfers.
Valuation: Player plus cash swap: Rooney plus £40 million for Bale.