United is reportedly ready to sell Rooney this summer for as little as £20 million ($31 million) because manager Sir Alex Ferguson no longer sees him as an automatic starter. The United boss is also thought to be fed up with the star forward’s inability to maintain peak fitness and conditioning levels, according to the Telegraph.
“Rooney has left the manager exasperated with his ongoing failure to overcome concerns relating to his match fitness,” the report says. “Those issues, combined with the perception that Rooney’s mobility and energy have been compromised, have accelerated his fall from grace at Old Trafford.
“United have no plans to open negotiations with Rooney over a new contract to replace the final two years of his £250,000-a-week deal, but with the former Everton player approaching his 28th birthday in October, his age and salary have left sources within the game placing his market value as low as £20 million.”
Ferguson left Rooney out of the starting lineup in United’s biggest game of the year — Tuesday’s defeat against Real Madrid. Many take it as a sign that the England international’s days as an indispensable part of the United squad are finished. The summer signings of Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa, combined with the emergence of Danny Welbeck may have convinced Ferguson that United would be best served by selling Rooney. His contract expires after the 2014-15 season, and United has until the close of the summer transfer window to sell him at maximum value.
Rooney’s age, salary and reputation narrow the list of possible destinations to a select few. Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) reportedly considered making a transfer bid for Rooney last summer before settling on other targets. The French club could return with a formal bid this time around. Real Madrid and Barcelona are the most logical destinations in Spain, while Bayern Munich presents the most likely German option.
English media outlets have reported that Rooney and his wife Coleen don’t want to uproot their young family, so a move abroad seems unlikely. Chelsea and Manchester City are the English clubs that have financial muscle to sign Rooney.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004 for £27 ($40.7 million). He was a teenage star at the time, and many predicted that he would go on to become one of England’s all-time greats under Ferguson’s watchful eye. Where he stands among the best players in his country’s history is up for debate, but he is unquestionably one of the greatest players to don a United jersey. He has made 394 appearances and scored 195 goals (fourth most in club history) for United. Since Rooney arrived, United has won one UEFA Champions League title, one FIFA Club World Cup title, four Premier League titles and two League Cups.
However, his time at United has not been without controversy. In October 2010, he publicly doubted the club’s ambition and handed in a transfer request. Ferguson convinced him to stay, and United signed him to a record-high contract extension. Rooney later admitted that requesting a transfer was the biggest mistake of his career.
Ferguson and Rooney nearly fell out again in December 2011. Ferguson fined and dropped Rooney after he broke curfew on Boxing Day and was unfit to practice the next day. United issued a statement denying it wanted to sell Rooney amid reports of a widening rift between the two. The player and manager are thought to have a strong relationship to this day, but it’s unknown if it is as good as it was before Rooney’s five-day transfer saga.
Rooney was once valued in excess of £40 million ($62.2 million), and he remains a force at the highest level. The reported price of half that amount suggest United has concluded that Rooney’s best days are firmly behind him. The Premier League leader is ready to move Rooney’s salary and issues out of the club and march into the future without him.