Chelsea move could rejuvenate Rooney

Posted by Musa Okwonga

It looks as though Wayne Rooney may be on his way from Old Trafford, following his pointed omission from the squad for Sir Alex Ferguson's final game. Though Ferguson has said that the England forward is not for sale, this can just as easily be interpreted as the opening gambit in the summer negotiations. Should David Moyes wish to keep Rooney at the club, he will have to move with the greatest haste.

- Bayern deny Rooney interest

Should Moyes wish to dispense with Rooney's services, given the outstanding talent of Shinji Kagawa in the number 10 position, then the question arises as to the Scouser's destination. Real Madrid seems unlikely, since they have an abundance of strikers. Though they are apparently set to release Gonzalo Higuain this summer, it is difficult to see Rooney playing fiddle to Cristiano Ronaldo for a second time in his career. More pointedly, while Ronaldo has improved each year of his career, Rooney seems to be in slow decline, with his form alarmingly listless at times during his club's successful Premier League campaign.

Elsewhere, Barcelona have been silent, presumably preoccupied with their much-rumoured acquistion of Neymar, while Bayern Munich have explicitly declared that they will not be bidding. The only two truly plausible choices -- in terms of clubs who could offer Rooney a platform for his talent, and afford his reported £250,000 per week wages -- would seem to be Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea.

PSG are an interesting proposition, but they may not offer the quality of domestic football that Rooney would like, particularly with the World Cup around the corner. Moreover, the French champions seem well equipped in forward positions as it is. Chelsea is the most intriguing proposition. Fresh from a Europa League final victory over Benfica, their outgoing manager Rafa Benitez announced that they were due to spend in the region of 100 million Euros in the close season, bringing in three or four players. This would be in addition to the existing squad, which in Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard; it features three of Europe's finest creative talents.

Rooney could operate in front of them as the number 9, where, rejuvenated by a move, he could offer more mobility and decisive finishing than Fernando Torres. It was as the number 9 that Rooney delivered his most prolific season to date, a 34-goal campaign where he looked at his happiest leading the line. Though his very best years at Old Trafford may be behind him, there is very chance that a new challenge would see him regain very good form. This would not take too much, given that he has finished this year -- substandard for a player of his calibre -- among the Premier League's leaders in goals and assists. Under the probable man-management of Jose Mourinho, that master at creating a siege mentality around his players, Rooney's transfer to Stamford Bridge -- a place that has been a welcome shelter for many a footballing outcast -- could be the decisive element in next season's Premier League title race.

If Rooney is indeed to leave this summer, then it would be on an unfortunate and discordant note. After all, he was for many years the pivotal figure at Old Trafford, and he has more than repaid his transfer fee by helping his club to five Premier League titles, two League Cups, and a UEFA Champions League. Now though, with his second transfer request in three years, he seems to want a club where he can take centre stage, a role that he conceded to Ronaldo for several of his formative years at Old Trafford. Stamford Bridge may just be that place. And, if it is, we can expect to see a very different Wayne Rooney next season.

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