With the close of the Premier League transfer window less than two weeks away, teams are finalizing their business or making a late scramble to secure reinforcements for their squad.
But Jose Mourinho and company aren't thick. They are plenty aware that United won't want to sell to another title contender, and that the Blues will need to have a backup plan in place.
Mourinho said as much, via Miguel Delaney of ESPN:
It is understood that there is an increasing acceptance at Stamford Bridge that United will not sell Rooney, but Mourinho admitted they are still interested.
“Nothing changed,” the coach said, as he was then asked why the club keep chasing a player despite two previous bids being rejected.
“It is the same reason why other clubs do the same with our players. When you think that you’d like to have one player and the market is open and the official bids are not forbidden, official bids are always accepted in an ethical way, you try because nobody forbids you to try. Of course the players’ owners can do exactly what we did with David Luiz and Barcelona. It’s simple."
When questioned on whether he has a "plan B", Mourinho quickly stated "and C". Those are understood to be [Samuel] Eto’o and [Burak] Yilmaz.
Both Eto'o and Yilmaz are interesting targets. Each could likely be had, and each would bring something different to the table.
It's hard to see Eto'o carving out a regular starting spot at Chelsea with Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and Romelu Lukaku all available. And it's arguable if he would even offer a major upgrade at forward, if one at all.
But Yilmaz is intriguing. A complete and intelligent forward, he would be able to play out wide if called upon to do so or give Chelsea a target in the box given his solid height. After his 32 goals last season for Galatasaray, Yilmaz proves he has a nose for goal.
He wouldn't come on the cheap, of course, but it isn't hard to see him carving a niche for himself on this Chelsea squad. Given the choice, Yilmaz would be the more productive addition over Eto'o.
But both of these players are probably "plan C," as Alan Nixon of the Mirror recently suggested that the Blues had their eyes on Borussia Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski. One of the top strikers in the world, Lewandowski would automatically upgrade the position and become a regular for Chelsea.
In fact, given his age (24) and his back-to-back seasons of 30 or more goals, you could make a strong argument that Lewandowski should be the primary target and Rooney a backup plan if Chelsea are actually in pursuit of the Polish striker.
Of course, that's probably wishful thinking on the Blues part. Lewandowski has already been tipped to make the move on a free transfer to Bayern Munich next season, so the odds of him joining Chelsea are about the same as Crystal Palace winning the Premier League title this year.
But if there is any interest on Lewandowski's part to move to England, Chelsea must pursue him rigorously.
And that's why Chelsea's best option if they can't land Rooney would be to simply keep what they already have. Lukaku is young, wildly talented and needs to be given the opportunity to grow with this team, while Torres will never justify what it cost to sign him but also was pretty solid for Chelsea last season.
And on any given day, Ba can dominate. It doesn't happen nearly enough, but he has his moments.
Rather than force a move for a player that won't really add much to the club, Chelsea should consider calling it a day on this transfer window. Sometimes, the best move is the one you don't make.