It is amazing to think that just a year ago Wayne Rooney was playing better than anyone in the world. Rooney was better than Messi. He was better than Cristiano Ronaldo, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres . . . well you get the point. Rooney was outstanding for Manchester United and he was expected to lead a powerful England attack into the 2010 World Cup. However, an ankle injury near the end of the EPL season knocked him off his game, hampered his preparations for the World Cup, and looked like he wanted to be anywhere but South Africa during WC play. Rooney was caught on camera bashing England fans for booing he and his teammates after England’s ugly draw against Algeria, and Rooney finished the tournament goalless. Now, the face of English football in Nike ads and someone who said he would never leave Man U, admits (along with his manager Alex Ferguson) that he wishes to leave Old Trafford. So where do we go from here?
Most soccer fans know about Wayne’s off-field issues involving a prostitute, and most people know how the British Tabloids are relentless and unforgiving. Thus, it is understandable why Rooney would like to move his wife and infant child away from the intense scrutiny of England. But Rooney can look at rivals Chelsea and see how Ashley Cole has handled his public divorce and cheating scandal, and realize that things can get better if he is willing to admit his mistakes and move forward. It won’t be easy, and perhaps he will need to put soccer on the back burner for a month or two (he could use the rest anyway), but if he is willing to work and make his marriage work, he can stay in Manchester. All that being said, Wayne seems bound and determined to flee the scene and head for Spain or Italy. With Man U’s financial problems, it is entirely possible that Rooney will leave this January during the winter transfer window, but where exactly will he wind up?
Anyone who thinks the Red Devils and Ferguson will sell Rooney to Manchester City, Chelsea or Liverpool is an idiot. The only way he stays in England is at Manchester United, and again it appears Wayne has given up on that plan. So he really only has three options; Barcelona, Inter Milan and Real Madrid. And to be honest, those three options are more likely just one option, and that is to become a part of the new Galacticos at Real.
Barcelona: Rooney likes the way Barca play, and his chances of winning titles would only improve at the Catalan club. Even with Messi and Villa, Rooney would be a welcome addition to Barcelona’s attack. However, the Blaugrana are in trouble financially, and even if they were to include Pedro or Bojan Krkic, they still probably can’t afford Man U’s asking price or Rooney’s wage demands.
Inter Milan: Last year’s treble winning side is stacked with talent, but oil tycoon owner Massimo Moratti is always looking to add to his squad. With his attempts of luring Messi away from Barca proving to be fruitless, Moratti would have to “settle” on signing Rooney. Inter have the money, and could include Diego Milito, Goran Pandev, Samuel Eto’o or one of their many young striking options to sweeten the deal. However, while Rooney’s bulldog like approach would fit well in the tactical, defensive minded Serie A, very few English players leave England, and even fewer head to Itlay. In Inter’s history only two Englishmen have played for the club, and neither lasted longer than three seasons.
Real Madrid: Then we come to Madrid, the most likely destination for Rooney. Madrid have the money, the bargaining chip (Karim Benzema), the manager (Jose Mourinho) and track record, (with not only superstars but English legends) to make it the perfect landing spot for Roo. Steve McManaman and David Beckham both wore the famous white kit of Real, and they both remain fan favorites to this day. Plus, other than Gonzalo Higuain (who has yet to truly win over the Bernabeu supporters due to his inability to perform in big matches), Madrid don’t have another striker on the first team. Wayne also possesses many of the same attributes the ‘Special One’ likes in his strikers, and is a similar player to Drogba, who became one of the best forwards in the world under Mourinho. Rooney would have to deal with sports tabloids Marca and AS, which can be just as cut-throat as their English counterparts, but one of Mourinho’s best traits is his ability to handle the media. Lastly, Rooney has familiarity with Cristiano Ronaldo due to their time at Man U, and with steadying influences such as Kaka, Iker Casillas, Ricardo Carvalho and Xabi Alonso, it wouldn’t be long before the British Bulldog returned to his world-class form. Of course, Madrid are sending out the signals that they aren’t interested in signing Rooney, but really this seems like an attempt to not piss off Man U like former president Ramon Calderon did during his chase of CR7.
In my opinion, I think Rooney follows in the footsteps of Beckham and Ruud van Nistelrooy and leaves Old Trafford for the Santiago Bernabeu. This will be a fun story to watch unfold, and whoever gets Rooney will hope he returns to being the exciting player he was just a year ago.
About the Author
Written by Robert Bode
A sports die-hard through and through. I grew up playing almost every sport possible, and to this day I try to stay as active as possible. However, since I'm not a professional athlete, talking and writing about sports is the next best thing. A University of Florida graduate but living in my hometown of Washington D.C. (well Northern Virginia), my favorite teams are the Florida Gators, Miami Dolphins, Chicago White Sox, Washington Nationals, Real Madrid, good up-tempo NBA teams (so not the Knicks), and Washington Capitals.