The Wayne Rooney to Chelsea transfer saga appears set to receive a new injection of life due to Manchester United’s delay in offering the forward a new deal.
Quite staggeringly, given how heavily Rooney was pursued over the summer, United are still to put fresh terms under the nose of their talisman, reports Martin Lipton of the Daily Mirror:
The Stamford Bridge hierarchy are now ready to go back in for Rooney next summer after discovering champions United have made NO attempt to tie him down to a new deal.
Rooney’s current contract has only 18 months to run, but it is understood there have been no talks about a new offer and that none have been planned or scheduled.
Wayne Rooney rejects new contract talks sparking rumours of Old Trafford exit - reports http://t.co/5qH0CNi7kc— Daniel Geey (@FootballLaw) December 11, 2013
If ever there was a time for Chelsea to pounce for Rooney’s signature, now is surely it. United are 13 points off the pace in the Premier League, they are playing poor football under David Moyes and there are signs of discontent in the squad, highlighted by Rio Ferdinand’s recent complaints, per the Metro's Jamie Sanderson.
Chelsea don’t expect to see Rooney in a blue jersey until the summer, reports Lipton, but they believe a deal can be done to seal the transfer ahead of next term.
Jose Mourinho immediately established his interest in Rooney upon his return to Stamford Bridge, making two offers that were both rejected by United, per Ben Smith of BBC Sport.
Rooney has since become the Red Devils’ most important player this season, scoring 10 goals to drag his team through a dire start to the campaign. He recent absence against Newcastle—due to suspension—was badly felt in a 1-0 defeat.
Given his outstanding form, it is astounding that a new contract has not been offered to the England international, as Lipton reports.
Where would Rooney be better off?
Rooney has twice expressed his wish to leave Old Trafford in the past, most recently when Sir Alex Ferguson revealed the striker wanted out of the club at the end of last season, per ESPN FC.
Moyes has done a good job of making Rooney feel more integral to his plans, which was an issue under Ferguson, allowing him to operate centrally behind Robin van Persie.
However, if that trust is not supported financially by a new contract offer, it would be no surprise to see Rooney’s head turned again. United appear to be a club in decline right now, while one would suspect Chelsea will only improve under Mourinho’s watch.
There is a parallel to be drawn linking this situation to that of Steven Gerrard in 2005. Gerrard came extremely close to joining Chelsea under Mourinho, only to perform a U-turn by staying at Liverpool.
The cause, as BBC Sport noted in its tracker of the saga, was a misunderstanding between Gerrard and chief executive Rick Parry. ESPN FC reported at the time that Gerrard had been upset by the slow pace of contract negotiations at Liverpool.
Such situations prove that even the top players need to feel loved. If United do not present Rooney with a new deal, and he feels the desire of Mourinho to make him Chelsea’s main man, the forward might this time pack his bags for good.