Rooney Will Be Surplus to Requirements Under Van Gaal

Peter GalindoFeatured ColumnistJuly 21, 2014

FILE - This is a Saturday, March 8, 2014 file photo of  Manchester United's Wayne Rooney as he  shouts instructions to teammates during the English Premier League soccer match between West Bromwich Albion and Manchester United at The Hawthorns Stadium in West Bromwich, England. Manchester United on Monday July 14, 2014 secured the most lucrative kit deal in football, announcing that Adidas has agreed to pay $1.3 billion over 10 years to take over the sponsorship from Nike. The deal, worth 75 million pounds ($128 million) a year from 2015, was announced after Nike decided that trebling the cost of its existing 13-year equipment supply contract was not good value for the company.  (AP Photo/Rui Vieira, File)
Rui Vieira/Associated Press

New Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal will have some tough decisions to make regarding his existing players.  One of those decisions could involve Wayne Rooney, who may no longer be needed by the club. 

Man U legend Bryan Robson claims that Van Gaal should name striker Robin van Persie as captain, per English newspaper the Daily Mail. Former manager David Moyes gave the armband to Rooney last season, which was a huge mistake.

When Rooney signed that mammoth contract extension, per United's official website, it was an indication that Moyes wanted to build the team around the England international.

David Moyes made the wrong decision in making Wayne Rooney his key player.
David Moyes made the wrong decision in making Wayne Rooney his key player.Rui Vieira/Associated Press

The contract was worth about £300,000 ($512,000) per week, according to the Daily Mail. It's the seventh-highest salary in football. It was also rife with clauses that essentially made Rooney the foundation of the team.

Over the last few years, Rooney has declined, and United should have sold him to Chelsea when they had the opportunity.  He's now 28 years old, and his numbers over the last two seasons have gone down. 

Since Rooney scored 27 league goals in the 2011-12 Premier League season, he's recorded just 29 in the subsequent campaigns, per ESPN FC. He's had 20 assists in that same span, but he had four in 2011-12 and three in 2009-10, when the striker had 26 tallies.

The difference between then and now is that the team wasn't built around Rooney. Moyes tried it last year and it failed. It got worse when Juan Mata was signed in January, as there was an excess of central attacking players.

If Rooney starts, he won't be the focal point. When the attack doesn't go through him, he's invisible and ineffective. It's tough to let go of a player who has done so much for a club, but football is a business, and it's time to cut him loose.

Rooney can no longer recover from injuries as quickly as he once did.
Rooney can no longer recover from injuries as quickly as he once did.Michael Regan/Getty Images

Rooney is aging, isn’t at his fittest and can no longer bounce back quickly from an injury.  Whenever he previously got hurt, it would take him a couple of games after returning to full training to become match fit. Now it takes about a month and will only get worse from now on.

Now that Van Gaal has arrived, it's clear that he's going to prefer Van Persie and Mata. The Spanish international Mata claims that he'll thrive in the Dutchman's system, per ESPN UK. Meanwhile, Van Persie will obviously be a key player if he stays healthy.

It will be tough for Man United to sell Rooney with his high wages.  However, Chelsea, Manchester City, PSG and Monaco might be able to accommodate him, assuming those clubs meet the restrictions of Financial Fair Play.

United might have to sell someone if they manage to land Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal. The Red Devils have been heavily pursuing the Chilean international and could acquire the 27-year-old, per English newspaper the Mirror.

Rooney will probably be the one who ends up leaving if his wage demands don't get in the way. If he stays, then United fans can expect another underachieving season.