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Time to say farewell to Wayne Rooney?

Whether it will be through retirement or a sorrowful transfer, the day Wayne Rooney departs Manchester United will be the day the club loses one of their most iconic players of the 21st century. Having arrived at Old Trafford as a bright and exciting teenage prospect, Rooney went on to become the club’s all-time goal scorer with an incredible 250 goals in 551 appearances. The club captain has been at the heart of the team since 2004 and has always maintained a reputation of being a fan favourite, following his passion and determination that he has showcased consistently during his 13-year reign in Manchester. However, over the last couple of seasons, this driving of the team forward single-handedly has fizzled out of Wayne’s game, after losing his once possessed burst of pace and also his quick close control.

This decline in performance levels has however been more than just a small slump. The deterioration of sharpness in Rooney’s play has largely prevented him in being able to effect games, struggling at both centre-midfield and of course the position he once controlled, the No.10 role. It has been evident this season that Rooney does not belong in Mourinho’s starting plans and has thus started rumours about the Englishman leaving in the Summer. Although Jose has downplayed this speculation, one must wonder how long Rooney will be happy watching on from the sideline and at the age of 31, Rooney may be considering his options in order to get playing time.

The Decline

Wayne Rooney throughout his industrious career became notorious for his pumped up attitude and always wearing his heart on his sleeve. His never die attitude alongside his energetic work rate has always allowed him to effect games across all areas of the pitch, operating in a free role with the license to move around. Performing as the focal point at Manchester United, Rooney has acclaimed great success with five Premier League medals and also one UEFA Champions League, with the Englishman playing an instrumental role in each campaign. Playing in this free role, Rooney predominantly dictated the tempo of games with his build up play whilst also excelling in front of goal, achieving double digits ever since his debut season, with the exception of this year.

The slow decline in Rooney’s style of play has therefore limited his own ability to affect games in the manner he once did. Without this quick-witted approach to the game, Rooney now struggles in fitting into United’s current system as he simply struggles to add a different dimension to their play. Despite an attempt in finding a role for the Englishman, ranging from roles such as centre midfield, a winger or striker, it seems there is no starting role for Rooney at United anymore.

However, let’s not create the picture that Rooney has lost every single one of his qualities. Wayne’s presence in the dressing room is an invaluable one and whilst still holding the captain’s armband, Rooney still holds as an influential figure to the younger players around the club. Also, a contribution of 10 assists across all competitions alongside five goals suggests Rooney is still a rather effective squad player. The scenario regarding his potential departure does, however, stem from the question of whether Rooney is happy to contribute in this squad role, following his once acclaimed reputation.

Likely Destinations

Everton:

Whilst the thought of Wayne Rooney playing for another Premier League club is an odd thought, the return to his boyhood club could be the perfect ending to his fairy tale career. Speaking back in March, Ronald Koeman publicly stated that the potential return of Rooney would be a ‘welcoming one’ and thus has raised speculation of the Evertonians preparing a bid in the region of £13 million come the Summer.

Evidently, through the transfers of Fellaini, Phil Neville, Tom Cleverley and most recent of course, Morgan Schneiderlin, it is clear that both clubs operate on smooth relations and following their transfer history, this rumour could turn into reality. The pivotal factor in this potential transfer will possibly not rely on negotiations of the transfer fee as such, but more on Wayne Rooney himself. Should Wayne favour a move back to Merseyside over anywhere else, both clubs seem happy to make it happen.

China:

A favourable move for many players, despite being an unpopular one with fans, the Chinese super league has acclaimed some recognised names over the last year including the likes of Hulk, Witsel and of course Chelsea stars, Ramires and Oscar. Whilst the transfers to China have divided football fans across the globe with many being disappointed through player’s footballing ambitions and others accepting the money driven moves, the Chinese transfer market has no doubt become an extensive part of the modern game.

Notorious for their extravagant wage packages, it is no doubt that the Chinese Super League clubs have the potential to tempt any player to make the move across the globe. Whilst it may appear absurd that Rooney would leave United for economic reasons (currently on £250k a week) it is not one that can be completely ruled out, particularly when he is guaranteed playing time.

United States of America:

Ever since David Beckham’s famous move to Los Angeles, it has seemingly become a trend for players to head over to the states in the final years of their career. The slower paced style of play in the MLS alongside the appealing lifestyle all accumulates in a rather fitting end for a footballer to sign off on. The likes of Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, and even Steven Gerrard have all followed these footsteps and it could become a tempting route for Wayne Rooney.

Verdict

As the season draws to an end and the absentees of Wayne Rooney in the team continue, I believe United fans should begin writing their farewells to the skipper now. As Mourinho is slowly moulding a team into his own, alongside a busy Summer transfer window waiting, it appears Wayne Rooney does not have a future in the newer long-term vision of Manchester United. Whilst he has no doubt been an outstanding servant to the club and a leading example for younger English products, it would be perhaps best for Rooney and United to part their ways under mutual agreement.

I believe it would be best for Rooney and the club to come to a decision before the Summer and announce it straight away. With America looking the most popular option for Wayne, we could be in for a Summer of rumours, speculation and non-stop gossip.

Written by Joshua Gmerek-Iftakhar

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