This morning saw an outbreak of consternation in the Twittersphere over reports that Chelsea had reportedly made a bid of £10 Million plus a player believed to be either David Luiz or Juan Mata in exchange for Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney. However, sanity was rapidly restored once everyone realised that it was highly unlikely that Chelsea would swap any player who is young, talented, integral part of the team such as the aforementioned for an injury prone 27 year old of suspect temperament and attitude. Rumours of Chelsea FC’s interest in the England striker have been mounting over the past couple of months, particularly since the player allegedly told the Old Trafford side’s then manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, during a meeting in April that he wanted to leave the club.
Speculation was heightened at lunchtime, though, when Chelsea confirmed that a bid had been made for Rooney, but no player exchange was offered. Whilst the club have refused to state how much the bid was, estimates in the media have ranged from £10 to £15 million.
And during the course of the day, I’ve come to the conclusion that might not be such a bad piece of business. As said, Rooney has had injury problems over the past few seasons and looks as likely to become a victim of burn-out as Michael Owen, another one-time teenage prodigy. However, carefully managed, he might fit in very well at Chelsea.No-one in their right minds (not even Chelsea, with their spectacular track record of paying over the odds for strikers) would pay in excess of £30 million for Rooney. But £20 Million? An English centre-forward, in a World Cup year, with all the implications of Financial Fair Play and what’s more, a shirt-shifter, might turn out to be as big a steal as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink turned out to be in 2001.
Of course following today’s claim and counter-claim, there’s no doubt that the clubs find themselves in a difficult position. And whoever’s running Manchester United’s PR department just now needs shoeing. Their announcement this afternoon that their CEO, the slightly unfortunately named – well for those of us of a certain age, anyway – Ed Woodward was on his way back to the UK “to carry out urgent transfer business” will just chuck another can of petrol on to a bonfire already blazing way merrily. Whatever happened to conducting your transfer business in private? Given the near secrecy with which Chelsea concluded the deals for Schurrle and van Ginkel earlier in the close season, it genuinely looks as if Manchester United are trying to cash in their chips on Rooney and put our club under pressure to commence serious negotiations. However, one thing is certain. Any possible Rooney to Chelsea deal will be played out right until the end of August. If he signs for Chelsea, there is no way Manchester United will be able to enter a clause saying he can’t play in the game between the sides on August Bank Holiday Monday. And that could be an uncomfortable night for Rooney. Already his family have been the subject of abuse from Twitter trolls. Wherever he ends up, he will want to leave Manchester on the best of terms.
There’s one other thing to consider from Chelsea’s point of view. If Rooney joins us, it will mark a seismic shift in the balance of power in English football. Yes, we have previously signed players from Old Trafford. But they have tended to be entering either the Autumn of their careers (Veron and Hughes), if not Winter (Paul Parker). For Chelsea to sign Rooney, who is arguably at the height of his career, will mark a new stage in how Chelsea are perceived. Already regarded in Europe as a Super Club, this could give the club a psychological boost at home in luring one of England’s leading players away from Manchester United. Because any Chelsea fan who is being honest with themselves knows that Manchester United have been England’s pre-eminent club for a generation now. But with the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson and the game of managerial musical chairs being played at the Premier League’s top clubs this Summer, there is a genuine feeling of a new era beginning. Football tends to be cyclical, and the last time Manchester United replaced an iconic Scottish manager of long tenure they were relegated within five years. That’s unlikely to happen this time round, but they could very well find themselves following the Liverpool model.
The final word currently rests with Jose Mourinho. When asked at the post-match press conference following our first pre-season friendly earlier today whether it was Rooney or bust, he simply answered “Yes”. This tells you all you need to know about how serious Chelsea are this time.
As usual you can follow me on Twitter @BlueBaby67