On the 19th of October, 2010, Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager announced that Wayne Rooney, the club’s best player, wished to leave Manchester United. Glumness and confusion ensued on all of Manchester United’s fan base.
Now that Rooney has sort of clarified his reasons for leaving, let’s look at 10 factors that will increase and decrease his value on the market.
On form, Rooney is massively skilled, arguably England’s best player and one of the best players in the Premiership. Last season, with renewed responsibilities following Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Real Madrid, he scored 26 league goals, and excelled in the lone forward position, or as Manchester United’s main goal threat – something he hadn’t been prior to last season. There is nothing to suggest that was a fluke, but after a luke-warm start to this season, he will be keen to prove that.
Despite playing in the Premiership for what seems like an eternity, Rooney is just 24. That makes him younger than Fernando Torres (26) and significantly younger than Didier Drogba (32), Drogba was actually still relatively unknown at the age of 24. Traditionally, footballers tend to peak closer to their thirties, meaning Rooney still has approximately four years before he hits his peak. His style of play – one not based on speed – suggests that he will be able to comfortably play into his mid-thirties too. His age suggests he would definitely be a sound investment.
As frustrating as it is for managers like Martin O’Neill, British players, particularly English players, tend to cost more than non-English players. Rooney is about as English as they come, endorsing England, playing as their main attacking threat, sometimes carrying the team. When he doesn’t play well, England usually underperforms. Expect his passport to add at least £5 million to his price.
Rooney has been asked to play in a number of forward positions, and has done well in them all. His dribbling ability means he can play as an attacking winger, his strength means he can hold the ball up and play as a lone striker, and his intelligence means he can work efficiently with another striker. If needed, he could also play in midfield, and he’s even shown he’s not the worst goalkeeper in the world. A lot of teams will appreciate this versatility from a growing striker.
When Ferguson decides he wants to sell a player, he tends not to hang around, and as a result, probably doesn’t get the best deal for the club. He took £16.5 million for Jaap Stam in 2001, €24 million for Ruud Van Nistelrooy in 2006 and, most famously, £25 million for David Beckham in 2003. Beckham probably made back his transfer fee in shirt sales alone. Of course, the exception to the rule is Ronaldo, but if Rooney follows a similar path as those in the Manchester United history books, a big club could find themselves snagging a wonderful deal for Rooney.
You could say Rooney personifies the Premiership, in his style of play. High on determination, skill and power, Rooney is willing to run all day for his team. But in the Spanish league, which prefers a steadier passing game, or the Italian league, which prefers a style of play starting in defence, can Rooney adapt the way he plays?
His personality is also more like Paul Gascoigne than the charming David Beckham, and one has to wonder if European fans would accept the Rooney that English fans do.
This sounds like a ridiculous question, of course Rooney would improve any team, but let’s look at the facts. Manchester City and Chelsea are allegedly interested, even if it’s unlikely Ferguson would fathom the idea, but Chelsea have Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Saloman Kalou and Daniel Sturridge – and no pressing need for Rooney. Manchester City have Emmanuel Adebayor, Roque Santa Cruz, Jo, and Carlos Tevez. Neither of them are crying out for an expensive striker.
Abroad, Real Madrid have history with English players and Manchester United, but in attack they have Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuan. Barcelona have David Villa, Bojan Krkic, Lionel Messi, Jeffren Suarez and Pedro – plus Zlatan Ibrahimovich on loan. Again, neither of them, with the systems they use, desperately need a player like Rooney, whom they would have to change their formation to suit.
Where else would Rooney be willing to go, that could pay for his services?
Invariably, clubs tend to spend most of their money in the summer, not in January. If Rooney really does want to push through a transfer, he will have to wait until January 2011: what will he do in the meantime? If Ferguson doesn’t play him until then, the bargaining position for anyone coming in for him is extremely favourable, and means Manchester United may lose out. They could loan him out in January, and give him a platform on which to prove his worth, if it weren’t for his contract running out in June 2012. Meaning by June 2011, Rooney would only have to wait until January 2011 to sign a contract with a club, allowing him to leave without a humungous transfer fee being paid – which would be bad news for Manchester United. Meaning that there only option is to sell him in January, most likely for less than they would expect.
Is elaboration even necessary? Rooney’s World Cup was a massive disappointment for fans of football. Not only did he not score, he failed to show any signs of magic that he had been performing in the Premiership on a weekly basis. Since the start of the new season, his form has continued as such. Potential suitors will be taking this into account when they bid.
The reason most are attributing to his lack of form is the revelations about his second incident with prostitutes, these ones more his own age, and befitting of his wages, but still deplorable for a married father. Clubs are looking for footballers who can be role models, and if Rooney’s behaviour continues, he is only decreasing his potential transfer value.
Rooney is a class player suffering from a lack of form. There will be plenty of clubs around the world that are interested in him, and the strongest bid could come from Manchester City. I question how an approach would make Carlos Tevez feel, and if Sir Alex would be willing to sell his best player to his closest rivals. After the club weren't able to reinvest the money made from the Cristiano Ronaldo sale, Ferguson might be cautious about making a move that doesn't include one of City's strikers - perhaps Adebayor.
Whatever happens is not going to be pretty.