Paris Saint-Germain have reportedly "discussed" an unlikely swoop for Manchester United's Wayne Rooney as an attacking alternative this summer, having failed to tease Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid.
Laurent Perrin of French newspaper Le Parisien (h/t Express' Ben Jefferson) claims talks between United and PSG regarding a potential swap deal have already been held this summer:
We discussed a trade with Rooney. The only problem was that you can never play Rooney on the right as you do with [Edinson] Cavani. So either we change the system but Laurent Blanc actually doesn't want either of them on the right and prefers Lucas [Moura]. I'd be curious to know what Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] thinks after what he did with Lucas against Reims.
The swap deal would have seen the unsettled Cavani head to Old Trafford, but Jefferson insists PSG's interest in Rooney hasn't died despite the initial breakdown. Writing under the headline "PSG 'Still Eyeing' Wayne Rooney," he claims the Ligue 1 club "remain interested" in the England star.
United may be in a weakened state following last season's seventh-place Premier League finish, which cost them European football, but £300,000-a-week Rooney still appears to be something of an untouchable player at Old Trafford.
Recent years have seen the forward adapt his play to what his side requires most, leading to his involvement out wide, behind main striker Robin van Persie (when fit) and even in deeper midfield roles.
Van Gaal undoubtedly has major plans for such a revered Manchester United figure, too, telling the Mail On Sunday (h/t ESPN) about his first impressions of the player, who represents more than just a strong on-pitch presence for the club:
He is always working very hard, has a high level and can make goals. He did that in America, four goal in his first three matches is not so bad I think! We have to wait and see, we are now in the beginning of the preparation. The physical training will go on before our first league match.
The Mirror's David McDonnell confirmed last week that Rooney had been elected the best player of the International Champions Cup, a glamorous preseason tournament won by United:
Rooney named player of the tournament. Three goals in the tournament, five in total on Man Utd's US tour #MUFC— David McDonnell (@DiscoMirror) August 5, 2014
Regardless of how one might feel about Rooney as a person or a player, there's no denying the important role he plays as one of, if not United's most versatile character.
The potential switch isn't made any more believable when finances are taken into account. The Daily Star's Chisanga Malata says Di Maria's reported £63 million deal was cancelled as it was "too expensive."
However, Rooney wouldn't exactly sit as a much cheaper alternative, and his massive salary is of course a long-term expense that must be taken into account.
The Red Devils stumped up such a lucrative five-and-a-half-year deal for their striker in February largely due to his impact on the field, but selling Rooney would be an almost unthinkable move considering the role he has as a morale booster.
Graham Ruthven of beIN Sports argues that Van Gaal's arrival has had a reviving effect on the forward:
PSG's bankroll has in the past given the impression that no player is beyond their reach, but Financial Fair Play means that even the Qatari-funded French champions are learning how to cope under stricter conditions.
Lest they risk further UEFA sanctioning, PSG will operate on a sell-to-buy basis for now, hence the swap deal being mooted as opposed to any direct purchase.
PSG's interest in a specialist wide man is clear, with Chelsea's Andre Schurrle cited in Jefferson's report as the other Di Maria alternative, making it all the more unlikely that Rooney would complete such an audacious move.
I don’t think it is the best position for Wayne, but I think many, many times players must do sacrifices for their team and I think Wayne did well. I think in this moment after defeat it is quite easy and it is a normal tendency to try and find the reasons for the defeat but I think it is fair to say that the reason for the England defeat was a great Italy.
Rooney plays out wide for the good of his current club, but the prospect of moving to the French capital with that sole intention in mind isn't likely to be one he finds appealing.
There are a myriad of factors that make Rooney's move seem like an impossible one, even for PSG, and at a time where Van Gaal requires all weapons at his disposal, it would be ludicrous for United to let their man leave.