There has been a lot of speculation surrounding Manchester United and Wayne Rooney for months now. It was suggested that the top scorer for both club and country could have been a Chinese Super League place by the end of February when the pre-season transfer window close, but a possible move was seemingly denied with Rooney remaining a Manchester United player. Rooney released a statement on the 23rd February, which said:
“Despite the interest which has been shown from other clubs, for which I’m grateful, I want to end recent speculation and say that I am staying at Manchester United. I hope I will play a full part in helping the team in its fight for success on four fronts. It’s an exciting time at the club and I want to remain a part of it.”
Since the media had their constant stream of stories surrounding Rooney and China ceased by the player himself, something had to keep him in the limelight in that sense, so a return to Everton was now the main story, rather than reporting that the player will remain at United, seeing out the current season and heading to Wembley which saw him lift the EFL Cup after a 3-2 win over Southampton, despite the captain not playing any part of the match. An Everton return could well be possible with Rooney happy to remain in the Premier League and clearly not the main figure at the Theatre of Dreams anymore with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a play five years his senior, upstaging him and scoring 26 goals so far this season, two of which helped win the FA Community Shield and the EFL Cup this season, which is a good start at United for the veteran Swede.
Everton manager Ronald Koeman spoke to Sky Sports at the end of February about Rooney and how he would make his side “stronger”. It is not the first time Koeman has spoken about a United player, praising Memphis Depay late last year with speculation rife of an Everton transfer for the Dutch winger, who ended up moving to France to play for Lyon. An Everton return for Rooney would be a return to the place where his career started as a 17-year-old, scoring that debut goal against Arsenal and seeing the eyes of the world affixed to the teenager, who later moved to United for a £25.6 million fee. Koeman said:
“I still think Wayne Rooney is playing at a high level and he made a good choice staying at Manchester United and in the Premier League. He still has two or three years in front of him to play at the highest level. What will happen at the end of the season, I do not know? In my opinion he’s one of the players who can make Everton stronger than they are now. It’s all about what the players likes, what Manchester United need to do and we are not involved in that project. Every player who we feel can make the team stronger is welcome at Everton.”
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has always stated that Rooney is a player he does not want to get rid of, but the fact he has been benched for more of the season than he has played for the club may suggest otherwise. Words aside, Mourinho does still select the captain to play for the club and has confirmed that he will be involved in the squad to face Bournemouth at Old Trafford on Saturday. In Friday’s manager’s press conference ahead of the first Premier league fixture for March, Mourinho was asked about the speculation linked his captain to Everton in the summer with the Portuguese saying:
“All the talk, for me, makes nonsense. He is selected for tomorrow with possibilities to start or be on the bench. He is an important player for us.”
Mourinho also spoke about Rooney’s future at Manchester United, saying:
“Until the end of the season, 100 percent he is with us. Next season, 100 percent I’d like him to be with us but I don’t give you 100 per cent as always the player is very important. I am the kind of manager who likes his players to be happy.”
Ronald Koeman was asked about Rooney during his press conference on Friday, speaking about the former Evertonian to Sky Sports earlier in the week, the Dutchman played down the speculation by saying:
“I don’t speak any more about Rooney. I have had questions about him several times. He’s a player of United. We will see what happens with him in the future.”
This thing remains that Rooney’s Manchester United career is hanging in the balance. Perhaps Mourinho would like to retain the captain, but with him being frozen out for much of this season, seemingly frozen out for more of next season, depending on who United sign in the summer, of course, Rooney’s decision may well be to leave the Theatre of Dreams after 13 years at the club. Mourinho may well be saying he wants to keep Rooney just to keep the media off his back, as at the end of the day, they can print what they like, which seems to be negative about the top scorer for both club and country, but if Mourinho had the same opinion and actually wanted to get rid of Rooney, despite it being the same opinion of the media, Mourinho would be crucified for saying that and will be public enemy number one once again. I guess playing the game and waiting for things to happen is the best option, if that is Mourinho’s game plan.
Written by Mike Wilson