Wayne Rooney Not for Sale: Where Now for Chelsea?
There's always one—a transfer saga that is played out before the media every summer, with the conclusion going right down to the very last minute.
On Wednesday, The Guardian revealed United are determined Rooney will not be leaving Old Trafford for any price this summer, which severely dents Jose Mourinho's hopes of adding him to his lineup.
The report will not put an end to the rumors and speculation, though, so we can expect many more revelations between now and Sept. 2 when the transfer window closes.
With it still rumbling on, Bleacher Report sums up how we got to this stage and where the Rooney saga might go before the summer is out.
The Transfer Saga: How We Got Here
With rumors circulating all summer about Chelsea being in the market for a striker, it was leaked on July 17 that the Blues had bid £20 million for Rooney, with either David Luiz or Juan Mata a part of the deal according to BBC Sport.
Chelsea quickly denied those claims, with the Daily Telegraph stating the club's bid was a straight-forward cash deal with no players involved.
In the aftermath, Blues boss Mourinho claimed the Englishman was the club's only remaining transfer target having signed Andre Schuerrle and Marco van Ginkel.
"It's Rooney or bust," the Portuguese told the world's media at a press conference, attended by the Daily Mail.
The debate rambled on and the Blues upped the ante earlier this month with a second bid, this time believed to be around £25 million according to BBC Sport.
It led to former United legend Bryan Robson claiming in the Evening Standard that Chelsea's offer was an "insult" before the club's hard-line stance was made clear by The Guardian.
How Vital Would Rooney be to Chelsea?
Torres enjoyed a successful campaign with 23 goals last season, but doubts still remain as to whether he can consistently produce the form that persuaded the Blues to spend £50 million in acquiring him.
Ba's transfer from Newcastle United in January hasn't seen him as prolific at Stamford Bridge, while Lukaku remains a raw talent.
The young Belgian's season-long loan at West Bromwich Albion last season saw him grow in stature, but it's a big ask to expect a player barely out of his teens to lead the club's charge for major honors this term.
With Rooney's track record of scoring goals in the biggest matches, his value to Chelsea will be significant. He is a match winner and is just what the club needs.
Who is Chelsea's Plan B? Do they need one?
Reports earlier this week from Sky Sports linked Chelsea with a move for Samuel Eto'o.
The former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker is currently plying his trade in Russia with Anzhi Makhachkala, and with news of budget cuts and a firesale at the club, it was thought the Blues would look to take advantage by bringing the 32-year-old to Stamford Bridge.
The Evening Standard is reporting Eto'o will remain in Russia, however, so if the reports of Chelsea's interest were true, Mourinho's Plan B could have very well slipped through his hands.
With other big-name strikers from the continent already sealing transfers of their own this summer, Chelsea are running out of suitable options it would seem.
That means even if the Blues wanted to look elsewhere, they may find it difficult to sign a player of Rooney's ilk from one of their rivals.
They already have a young star coming through in Lukaku. What they need is a striker who will slot into the attack with ease and score goals at will. They cannot gamble on an unknown.
Chelsea have put all their faith in the Rooney transfer coming off, and they need it to.
Romelu Lukaku the Real Winner if Wayne Rooney Bid Fails
With less competition for places, a failure to sign Wayne Rooney will mean Romelu Lukaku's chances to impress will be greatly heightened.
Who will be better off without Wayne Rooney at Chelsea?
The young Belgian has looked sharp in preseason, but as he found out under Andre Villas-Boas in his debut Blues campaign in 2011-12, with more experienced players in front of him, he runs the risk of being a forgotten man.
Mourinho clearly holds Lukaku in high regard, and, without Rooney being among his strikers, Chelsea's Portuguese manager will be forced to take the plunge with the 20-year-old a little sooner than he may have planned.
It will be good news for Fernando Torres, also. We saw how competing with Didier Drogba for supremacy at Stamford Bridge damaged his confidence. Without another alpha male in the guise of Rooney to contend with, Lukaku's chances to flourish will be far greater.
Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here: @garryhayes
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