Ever since Wayne Rooney started making the wrong noises after the season ended, speculation about his future, which had begun when he was benched in the all important Champions League game against Real Madrid, has only intensified. Initially, Barcelona and Chelsea had emerged as likely candidates, but such reports remained just that – ‘rumors’.
Later, Arsenal were thought to be the favorites to land Rooney, but even that seems to have petered out now. PSG have always been there in the running, but they do not require another striker, considering the attacking options they already have.
For now, I’m interested in one potential move of Wayne Rooney – to Chelsea. I might give you the impression of being a hater of Wayne Rooney as you read along. Trust me, I recognize that he is a top quality player who can match anyone on his day, but I do not want him in Blue! I believe this will not be a good move for either Rooney, or the club and here’s why.
1. Chelsea’s Current Squad
Chelsea’s attacking midfield and strike force combined, looks extremely overloaded. In Oscar, Mata, Hazard, de Bruyne, Piazon, Moses, Lukaku, Ba, Torres, etc, they have a lot of options to fill 4 slots in the attacking part of their 4-2-3-1 formation (assuming Mourinho does not change it).
On top of that, they have already added Andre Schurrle. Throw in the almost complete signing of Marko van Ginkel from Vitesse into the mix and a group of returning loanees, you can see some overcrowding already. So why add Wayne Rooney? What extra would Rooney bring into the Chelsea team apart from what they currently have? Okay, you may argue that he’s a lethal finisher, but haven’t Chelsea already got Romelu Lukaku to offer that threat?
2. Is he a Mourinho type of a player?
Historically, Jose Mourinho has always favored players who work hard in their position and are in top physical condition. Rooney was initially dropped to the bench by Sir Alex because the Scott believed he was not working hard enough in the position he was assigned to play, and even looked disinterested sometimes.
There were also reports of Rooney not being in top physical condition to demand a sure start in the Manchester United team. If Sir Alex had recognized these, surely he must not have got it wrong? So why should Jose Mourinho buy such a player and bench what he already has, inspite of having the knowledge of such deficiencies?
Wayne has been in the news far too regularly to be considered the ideal role model for character. His early feud with David Moyes notwithstanding, reports of disinterest, disappointment at being played out of position, and that famous drama a couple of years ago make him a favorite to fill the newspapers occasionally.
Now consider what Chelsea have – a young Romelu Lukaku eager to do whatever is demanded to force his way into the team, an experienced Demba Ba who will be content to step in when asked and will still score the goals, and of course, a rejuvenated Fernando Torres. When things look so positive (especially with Lukaku), why should Mourinho disturb that harmony and bring in a player who carries his own share of controversy with him?
4. Pressure of the price tag
Chelsea and big-name strikers have never got along well, have they? From Adrian Mutu in the past, to the famous pair of Andriy Shevchenko and Fernando Torres, all were signed for hefty fees and never looked totally worth it (Torres has been the best of the trio to some extent, owing to his recent upturn in fortunes). Following Torres’ move, Roman Abramovich will be careful not to spend big on another striker from a rival team.
In case of Rooney, we are talking about a fee potentially in excess of 30 million, which by Abramovich’s standards, is not a record sum, but a significant one nonetheless. We can also expect a further escalation in the fee, considering the premium for British players in the Premier League. So, will the price tag affect Rooney if he moves to Chelsea? Will the knowledge of the past struggles of Shevchenko and Torres increase the pressure on him and affect his performances?
One of the main reasons for Rooney wanting out is that he was being played out of position far too often. While we all thought that he was happy becoming an extremely flexible and versatile asset for the team, he was personally not too pleased about it. Though he can play anywhere in midfield now, and in the hole behind the striker, he really wants to play as the central striker at all times and be considered the first choice there.
Now, considering Chelsea’s options in the final third, I see Rooney being deployed more as a roaming player in the trio rather than as a forward, as he may find it difficult to command a regular starting position owing to stiff competition from the strikers they already have. So he will not be their main striker – he will only be a flexible option to rotate and fill in all slots of the attacking third of the 4-2-3-1 formation, or even a 4-3-3 if Mourinho wishes to change.
Considering these reasons, I believe Chelsea are better off without Wayne Rooney in their ranks. Lukaku, Ba, Torres and Schurrle are more than enough to share the goal scoring responsibilities to sustain a real challenge for the title. The addition of a player like Rooney, who commands attention, a regular start, a fixed position, in addition to demanding hefty wages and asking for a transfer when he thinks he is not being paid enough, will nullify the good work that Chelsea have been doing in the transfer market for the past few years.
Buying young, quick, and hungry players has been Chelsea’s strategy in the transfer market, and I must question Wayne Rooney’s hunger here. He has already won all that is possible to win in England, so why would he do it all over again when there are fresher challenges to be tried abroad? Why should Wayne Rooney, with all the troubles that he brings along with him, be added to a squad consisting of a young core of players, eager and hungry to win titles and striving to be the best? Not starting regularly at Chelsea may affect his World Cup ambitions, since his departure from Manchester United may clear the way for Danny Welbeck to stake his claim to be England’s first choice striker.
But this is Chelsea we are talking about – so expect surprises from Abramovich. Signing Wayne Rooney, which looks destined to fail, will only signal a statement of sadism from Chelsea – weaken your enemy to strengthen yourself. Wayne Rooney is a player they do not need. They rather spend the same in a bidding war for a player like Lewandowski, which is, if not a compulsion, a necessity at least.
Personally, I believe the group of Fernando Torres, Andre Schurrle, Demba Ba, and the ‘Next Drogba’, that is Romelu Lukaku, assisted by one of the best midfielders in the world, are good enough to fire Chelsea to glory next season.