Wayne Rooney Place in Question Amid Man United's Herrera Signing, Vidal Interest

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2014

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney in action during their English Premier League soccer match against Everton at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Sunday April 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Clint Hughes)
Clint Hughes/Associated Press

Manchester United look set to continue a busy summer of spending even before new boss Louis van Gaal is officially in place at the Old Trafford club, with news of a transfer pursuit of Arturo Vidal.

United are looking to sign the Juventus midfielder for around £30 million as per Mirror Football's rumour mill (via Daily Star), following comments by the Netherlands national side manager earlier in the month of how he was an admirer of Vidal and "wanted to buy Vidal" before his move to the Serie A side, as per ESPN.

While United fans would rightly rejoice at them signing a major player in the game, signing Vidal—coupled with that of Ander Herrera—would leave major question marks about the fate of Wayne Rooney, a United player for a decade who has endured several summers of rumours already.


Vidal's Best Role

Arturo Vidal has established himself as a barnstorming midfielder of immense repute thanks to his aggressive, all-action performances which see him dominate the centre of the park and contribute heavily to the Juve attack.

Luis Hidalgo/Associated Press

Playing with a deep controlling midfielder behind him, Vidal is able to roam the middle and final thirds as he sees the game open up, making late runs from deep to make up an extra penalty box attacker, dribbling with the ball to break opposition defensive lines and using direct, intelligent passing.

At international level with Chile his role is similar, though in a different team shape. Brazil 2014 hasn't yet seen the best of him as he has struggled for fitness after an operation, but there is no doubting his immense talent.


Herrera at 10

Ander Herrera's costly move from Athletic Bilbao presents United with a talented ball-playing midfielder, who is not only technically proficient but incredibly versatile too:

We're delighted to welcome midfielder @AnderHerrera8 to the #mufc family. Full story: http://t.co/nx0bfxt8R4 pic.twitter.com/DicXTtbEvF

— Manchester United (@ManUtd) June 26, 2014

Indeed, Herrera can play in any of the three midfield roles: the deep controlling option, the central midfield distributor or the more advanced, creative playmaker in the No. 10 role.

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

It is the latter position which bears some uncomfortable truths for Rooney; van Gaal is almost guaranteed to go with Robin van Persie as his first-choice striker at United, leaving Rooney as either a support act, a wide player or a sub option.

The assumption at present is that van Gaal goes with his usual 4-3-3 system, with no "true" No. 10 in place but certainly one of the two advanced midfielders being asked to be a creative, probing threat in the final third. Given the squad at United's disposal, the most likely course is that Herrera plays that offensive role, with Vidal—should he sign—being the runner alongside.

Rooney, then, is looking at a left-sided role which gave him so much trouble at the World Cup, or no place at all.

#eng pace on the break starting to worry #ita defence. Need to find Sterling more. Rooney (who doesnt enjoy left) needs to get more involved

— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) June 14, 2014


Two up Top?

Speaking of the World Cup, van Gaal is currently utilising a 3-5-2 (or 3-4-3, as van Gaal prefers to label it) with Netherlands, operating with Daley Blind and Daryl Janmaat as wing-backs and a two-pronged attack.

Rooney would be a fit alongside van Persie in that system, of course, but United have several other forwards vying for the role too, not least of all Juan Mata, United's club record signing.

Martin Meissner/Associated Press

It seems unlikely van Gaal would opt for this 3-5-2 as a regular system during the entire Premier League season in any case, rather utilising it as an option within isolated matches if at all. Even in the 4-3-3, Rooney would compete against Mata, Danny Welbeck, Ashley Young, Nani, Antonio Valencia, Adnan Januzaj, Shinji Kagawa and whoever else United decide to keep or bring in this summer.

There is a long way to go before any signing of Vidal is completed by United, especially with the player still in World Cup action with Chile, but the managerial appointment at the club and subsequent transfer dealings certainly make it look as though Rooney's position is under greater threat than ever before.