There has been an intense speculation regarding the future of Wayne Rooney in the past few days, although it should be noted he has come out and said he will not be leaving Old Trafford, as it is an exciting time to be with Manchester United. The question remains, how long will this be the case?
The speculation is that Wayne Rooney, Manchester United and England captain would be leaving our shores for the Chinese Super League before the end of their transfer window on the 28th of February. Indeed, his agent has been out in China to speak with the appropriate representatives regarding this move and, as is usually the case, there is no smoke without fire.
I want to take a bit of time to discuss the career of Wayne Rooney and the way in which he is viewed by sections of the media and football fans across the country. His career has not run without its fair share of controversy, whether it be his personal antics with women of a certain age or berating the England fans that had travelled to South Africa to watch an abject draw with Algeria. That being said, he has often shown fantastic ability and has racked up some phenomenal stats!
In 50 years time, when you look back on the career of Wayne Rooney purely on paper, he will have a claim at having been the most successful career of any England player to have played the beautiful game. He currently has 119 caps to his name, which is second in the all-time list, and only six behind Peter Shilton. Further to this, he has scored more goals than anybody else for his country, having surpassed Bobby Charlton in 2015.
If you add to this the fact he is one of the most decorated club players ever, and has won every club competition possible with Manchester United, again having surpassed Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record, this time for Manchester United, in early 2017, he has had a phenomenal career and it is hard to believe that he is only 31.
However, there are some quarters that do not view Wayne Rooney’s career in the way the stats read, and rightly so. He is a professional footballer, currently earning in the region of £300,000 per week to play for arguably the biggest club in the country, but his performances for them have generally been below par. Add to that, no stand out England performances since Euro 2004, it is difficult to judge the manner in which he should be viewed.
He has never truly shown up for his country, and appears to have stumbled over the line for the records he has achieved, much like a worn out marathon runner, which he may well be, as he debuted what seems like a life time ago and has never had a long period of rest from the game.
Setting my stall out, I believe he is a phenomenal player and I would go as far as saying he is the best footballer that England has ever produced (again this is heavily influenced by his stats). I have wanted him to regain the kind of form that saw him scoring goals such as the volley against Newcastle United just seconds after arguing with the referee. The kind of form that he showed when he burst on to the scene for Everton scoring a fantastic goal against Arsenal, alas that has not yet happened. Fans of Wayne Rooney will probably have to accept this will not happen again, as he is now a different kind of player, one that has to rely on his football intelligence to produce performances but, again, this is yet to materialise fully.
Wayne Rooney is currently in transition, I do think he needs to pick his poison. In a sense that he either needs to try and morph into Zlatan, a man that will be the main striker and whilst they want to win, they also know their place is up front and battling with the centre halves. Or the other option is that he demands to drop deeper, and attempts to become a Steven Gerrard type player, but he might not have defensive mind or ability for that.
Whilst there would be a large amount of suitors for Rooney, they would have to be able to pay his hefty weekly wages and stump up a healthy fee, which Manchester United are likely to want before letting him go. Also, seeing Rooney leave would surely end his international career, as Gareth Southgate cannot continue to pick a player that is plying their trade in a league with such a poor standard.
The stats should speak for themselves, yet they do not. Rooney is full of passion and desire but is marred by poor form and the questionable tactics he used to obtain a bumper contract at Manchester United. I do not feel people will look back upon Wayne Rooney and miss him, in the same way players like Scholes, Gerrard and Beckham will be missed.
It would be the end of an era not only for Rooney himself, but also Manchester United, their fans and the entirety of English football. It could also see the beginning of a shift in world football power, with more and more British players potentially looking to leave to maximise their wealth in what can be such a short footballing career. Whatever happens, the whole of English football should salute his career but this cannot be guaranteed.