Higuain transfer could open up Rooney move

Posted by Mark Payne

Clive Mason/Getty ImagesWayne Rooney's future is the subject of much debate.

It is the story that just won't go away. Wayne Rooney's proposed departure from Manchester United keeps making headlines, and this week some of United's closest rivals have made their interest known. United manager David Moyes and Rooney are yet to sit down and discuss the future, but the question now arises: Will they ever get the chance?

The odds on Rooney transferring to Real Madrid have been slashed by the bookmakers, who know a thing or two about probability, and a Ladbrokes spokesman said on Friday: "Plenty have backed Rooney for a Real switch at big odds. The gamble is showing no sign of stopping."

- Limbert: Higuain is worth fighting for
- Usmanov backs Rooney to Arsenal
- Juve upbeat over Higuain transfer

Football fans across Europe will remember the way United's No. 10 linked up beautifully with Cristiano Ronaldo in the European Cup-winning season of 2008. Ronaldo is, of course, now at Madrid, and Rooney would no doubt relish the size of the challenge that awaits at the Bernabeu. Madrid president Florentino Perez is no stranger to paying big money for big players and, with Gonzalo Higuain finalising a move to either Arsenal or Juventus, Real have an opening.

When Rooney passed his 10th anniversary as a Premier League player last season, there were sneering comments made that asserted he hadn't reached his potential. He has been hamstrung on the international stage by being surrounded by consistently underperforming teammates, but at club level he has won the lot.

"I'm definitely a centre forward. I'm after more goals," said Rooney recently when asked about his preferred position on the pitch. This is in stark contrast to the midfield role he occupied for United for the final six months of last season.

"He should do what makes him happy," said Jose Mourinho when asked about Rooney during the former Real Madrid coach's unveiling at Chelsea last week. Mourinho, who spoke at length about going back to where he was "loved," is canny enough to flirt with the unsettled striker. He knows better than most that a motivated Rooney is an unstoppable weapon.

Arsenal appear interested too; major shareholder Alisher Usmanov went on the record this week to say that "there would be great success for Rooney" at Arsenal, should he join. With the Gunners pushing to sign Higuain and releasing the purse strings this summer, a move is not out of the question. It would surely satisfy Wenger a great deal after Robin van Persie moved in the opposite direction last year.

Rooney is 27 years old and coming into his prime. Manchester United should do everything they can to keep him, and it is assumed that Moyes will try to convince him to stay when they meet in early July. United fans will be hoping that Rooney is still around for the new manager to talk to.

Follow Mark on www.twitter.com/markjpayne

ESPN Conversations