In one of the most surprising outbursts of recent years, Wayne Rooney has started to engineer a move away from Manchester United. I'm sure I was not alone in laughing off the rumours which began to circulate, and not alone in being shocked by Rooney's decision.
So far there are no solid reasons available to comment on as to why Rooney would want away, but it seems likely that he would aim for one of the Spanish giants.
It stands to reason that only Chelsea or Manchester City could afford him in England, while on the continent the same can be said of Real and Barcelona. The Spanish contingent may have the advantage here as Rooney looks to escape the sordid allegations of prostitutes and the hounding of the British press.
So were we to accept for the time being that hypothetically Spain might be Rooney's likely destination, a second question arises, do Real Madrid or Barcelona need Wayne Rooney?
Barcelona have not enjoyed the same utter domination of the Primera Liga as they did but a couple of years ago, having lost to newly promoted Hercules at the Nou Camp—a near unthinkable result—and drawing 1-1 with Mallorca, also at home. They currently sit third, and have scored twelve league goals. Summer signing David Villa has not exactly set the league on fire with Barca, scoring two goals and assisting one more. In terms of output, the ongoing argument regarding Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo is rather one sided; Ronaldo has six goals and four assists, whereas Messi has three goals and one assist.
To be clear, Barcelona are not exactly struggling in the league—with their player selection it would be difficult to—but they are definitely lacking something. Perhaps Rooney is that something. On form he is near unplayable. Add that to a near unplayable team and you get a (hypothetically) rather potent force.
Pep Guardiola has expressed his admiration for the player and Barcelona seem to have substantial financial muscle, despite reported debts.
Despite Barcelona having a way of playing which might not be perfect for Rooney, Guardiola will work at adapting him, or change his tactics to accommodate him, something worth doing with a player like Rooney.
Rooney would add to Barcelona something that they clearly lacked in the last CL season: a physical presence up-front. Despite Gerard Pique being a fairly accomplished footballer, Inter Milan's physical defensive play effectively stopped Barcelona playing. Rooney could achieve what Ibrahimovic was meant to.
Table toppers Real Madrid do not need Rooney at the moment, but this doesn't mean they don't want him. With an attacking line-up already including top form Ronaldo, German wunderkind Mesut Oezil and Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain, they are spoilt for choice, but the temptation to reunite Ronaldo and Rooney must be a strong one.
If Rooney could find the form of last season, and the ability to combine with Ronaldo like in their Old Trafford days, it would be a brave man who bet against Real sweeping La Liga aside and driving into the CL with absolute confidence.
Financially, one can imagine that Real would have no problem paying whatever Rooney wanted, as well as paying whatever fee Manchester United required. Indeed the advantage is with Real and Rooney, who could possibly buy out his contract, meaning he could leave on a free.
How would Rooney adapt to the Primera Liga?
This is the key question. Rooney is used to playing at 110 percent, charging around the pitch with a fairly loosely defined role, both supporting attacks and looking to spearhead them. Whether he could fit into the tactical subtitles of Barcelona's intricate passing is an unanswerable question, and here his previous record with Ronaldo would offer an easier alternative.
Rooney's physicality could also be a double edged sword. It obviously is a powerful weapon within his arsenal but he may end up with a Kevin Davies type record of seemingly endless fouls in a less physically aggressive league.
Either way, if Rooney leaves than it will likely be for one of these two clubs, if you believe he would fit one better than the other, would struggle to excel in La Liga, or should go to a different league/club, then let me know below