As a Newcastle fan, I'm quite used to hearing ridiculous things - usually from our own supporters. But this one really tops the lot. Sports Direct News (yes that's actually a thing) has claimed that "low-level" talks have taken place between the Magpies and Wayne Rooney's agent, although an official offer is yet to be lodged. Go figure.
What's most surprising though, is not that the rumour exists - I'd imagine some journo who's down on his luck probably conjured it to boost the hits of his arcane blog somewhere - but that ESPN and other news outlets are actually entertaining it!
That said, it's a nice thought isn't it? The likes of English football's most attractive (in footballing terms at least) talent, trading one traditional club for another, instead of the plastic corporation taking shape across the channel. Sadly, that's all I expect it'll be, a thought, just like the Berbatov rumour last summer and the Defoe story the before that.
So, with Newcastle's interest in Rooney apparently little more than disingenuous and erroneous hearsay, I thought I'd look at where the Manchester United striker might actually fit in.
Despite having around £100million's worth of them, City are devoid of a truly out and out striker. Dzeko's not that good; while plagued by their own versatility Aguero and Tevez have never really been able to fill the classical number nine position. Rooney may have been faced with a positional identity crisis himself at United, often being played out wide or in centre mid, but still managed to perform. Nevertheless, his best seasons have come from when he has been able to adopt that centre forward role he so obviously wants, and City so obviously need. Crossing the border would be tough, but if not brave, Rooney's perhaps stupid enough to try it.
With the seemingly imminent return of Jose Mourinho as manager, a marquee signing might be just what the club hierarchy needs to show that he and Uncle Roman have truly buried the hatchet. Chelsea are blessed with some very creative players and through balls from Juan Mata to an on-running Rooney are not a sight that would shock me. The only drawback at Chelsea would be the competition for places; with several first rate attacking players and Fernando Torres, accommodating all of them in their preferred position would not be healthy for an ego clearly already spurned from his time with Fergie.
Well this one's almost as ridiculous as Newcastle really.
Despite the relatively subdued reputation of Ligue 1, PSG can offer Rooney some superstar teammates and absurdly high wages. However, just as with Chelsea, the presence of several names and egos, that of Ibra's in particular, could prove the commercial stumbling block that makes this move a mistake. Besides, compared to other teams, PSG are quite defensive - more concerned with composure than with excitement.
The growing strength of the Bundesliga and the imminent arrival of forward thinking Pep Guardiola as manager will have some appeal I'm sure. Bayern play a quick counter attacking style which suits Rooney well, having scored prolifically in a similar system alongside Cristiano Ronaldo back in 2008. I can see him adapting to Germany more quickly than France, not only because it's a quicker game, but I see Rooney as more into beer than wine.
With the supposed impending exit of Mourinho to Chelsea, a new Galactico to help whatever poor soul becomes his replacement, could be at the top of the agenda. Playing wise, Madrid would fit Rooney marvellously, especially if Ronaldo stays put. A perfect partner for Benzema or Higuain, and a finisher worthy of Alonso's vision, Rooney at Madrid would be immense. What I see clouding the move though, is Rooney's marketability, or lack thereof. Madrid is a cultured and sophisticated embodiment of European football. Wayne Rooney is not. Beckham wasn't either but at least he had the looks.
English players at Barcelona - it's not something we've seen for a while, and I don't see that changing. Not only would this move be unrealistic, but I just don't see who Barca would sacrifice to make room. They don't play a system which would accommodate him and given player involvement in Catalonia's politics, I don't think a lad who shags prostitutes would go down too well.
In short, there are pros and cons to whatever choice Rooney makes, but it seems safe to say he is moving, regardless of Fergie's bullish defiance. Newcastle might have oddly emerged as the wildcard, but this isn't 2004, they're not managed by Bobby Robson any more or in the champions league, Alan Shearer has retired, Mike Ashley's a tight git and the club is bound to finish in the bottom half this season. All of that said though, Berbatov did go to Fulham...