The Theatre of Dreams could soon be but a memory for one of England’s top players as controversy swirls around the future of Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney.
He started Saturday’s disappointing 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion on the bench and only came on with about 20 minutes to go, a move by manager Alex Ferguson that some believe was in direct response to some comments made by the player early last week.
After England’s draw with Montenegro, Rooney denied that his limited action this season was due to injury, saying he didn’t know why his manager keeps talking about an ankle problem. He’s been all over the tabloids across the soccer world in the last couple of months too for his involvement with a prostitute – another reason he may have fallen out of favor with a manager who doesn’t like his players causing big distractions.
Since then, it appears Rooney has told Man U that he wants out, and won’t sign a new contract after his current deal wraps up in June of 2012.
The club says the star striker won’t be sold in the January transfer window, but there’s another way out says The Belfast Telegraph.
Under FIFA rules, Rooney can terminate his contract with Manchester United next summer for £5-million, his current annual salary, plus a small amount of compensation. The “Webster ruling” dictates that a player can walk away after what FIFA describes as the “protected period” of a contract, which varies depending on a players age.
The Telegraph says it has checked with the Spain-based law firm that has been involved in every Webster case to date, confirming this as an option for the player.
As if this story couldn’t get any juicier – there are reports that United’s bitter cross-town rivals Manchester City are gearing up to offer mega money for Rooney in January.
The Daily Express says City will offer £60-million to Man U, with another £40-million set aside for a deal that’ll pay Rooney £200,000 a week, or more than double his current salary!
The Express reports City would love to steal Rooney away though, a year and a half after signing former Red Devil Carlos Tevez. Further to that, they say Rooney “is not averse” to what would be a controversial move to the free-spending Man City.
What a storyline that would be!
Chelsea, another main rival of the club, also say they’ll be interested if the price is right.
Should Roo pay his way out of his current deal with United, I’m sure his new club would be more than happy to make it worth his while. The biggest concern though is making sure Rooney gets back to the form he showed last season – if he isn’t injured, which he claims to not be, why has he not scored in open play since March?!
At least one person doesn’t think he’ll be making a move – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he is convinced that Rooney will stay at United, “because it is his club.”
If that’s true, I’m sure he’s left scratching his head over the limited amount of time he’s spent on the field so far this season!
Sir Alex doesn’t do the whole post-game press conference thing and hasn’t been doing pre-match interviews, so no one really seems to know what is going through his mind right now, but he’ll be forced to do one later on today when Man U faces Bursaspor in Champions League action.
That said, I don’t think he’ll open up much – if Rooney continues to come off the bench though, I think it’ll be pretty clear how Fergie feels.
What do you think – should Wayne Rooney buy out his final year this summer, or should Manchester United try to sell him in January?