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Saturday, 18 May 2013

Wayne Rooney to Arsenal - Could it really happen?


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It has been a strange few days in the Barclays Premier League. We've had Sir Alex leave as manager of Manchester United, Wigan win the FA Cup and get relegated inside four days, Roberto Mancini sacked and Stoke City's Kenwyne Jones finding a pig's head in his locker. However, perhaps the most eye-catching story of the past 10 days has been the one linking Wayne Rooney with a move to the Emirates.

The Manchester United and Everton star has fallen out of love with Old Trafford and handed in a transfer request for the second time in three years. Sir Alex refused it point blank and it remains to be seen whether David Moyes, who gave Rooney his big break at Goodison as a youngster, will convince Rooney that he plays a vital role in his plans. 

Rooney's ego has taken a huge blow this season. Ferguson dropped him for their huge Champions League clash with Real Madrid and he has been forced to play in a deeper midfield role. Whether that was his choosing or not, Rooney has visibly not been a happy lad these past few months.

Wayne arsenalWhispers on the grapevine are that Rooney fancies sampling the bright lights of London. This immediately made Chelsea everyone's logical option, especially with the impending return of Jose Mourinho on the cards, but then came talk of Arsenal being prepared to smash their wage structure to land, when he's on song, one of the most devastating players in the English game.

United of course are publicly stating that Rooney is not going anywhere, but then they are not going to alert clubs to the fact that he has no future at the club and let him leave on the cheap. It has been well documented that Moyes and Rooney have had their differences but a lot of water has passed under that bridge. However, it wouldn't take long before those differences surfaced again in such a pressure cooker atmosphere, so maybe Rooney's future does lay away from Manchester.

So what about Arsenal? Their biggest earner is Lukas Podolski on £100,000 a week. That is dwarfed by Rooney's colossal £250,000 a week. Not to mention the huge transfer fee it will take to sign him. If Wenger was to sign Rooney that would be a huge statement of intent and be a huge wake-up call to the rest of the Premier League. It would signify that Arseanl were back and ready to be a realistic title contender once again.

But why would Wenger be prepared to break the club's long-standing wage policy to bring Rooney to the Emirates when he failed to do so in order to keep Robin van Persie at the club? Maybe this story is complete fabrication or perhaps seeing RVP lift the trophy with United has reignited his desire to actually win trophies, rather than settling for finishing in the top four every season.

Remember, Wenger currently only has one year left on his contract and if he is to bow out next season he would love to do so as a winner. With new managers at United, Chelsea and City, Arsenal will never have a better chance of getting their hands back on the Premier League crown.

When he's on form and his head is in the right place, Wayne Rooney is a phenomenal player with a huge appetite for the game. Rooney has his detractors - when was the last time he actually produced the goods on the biggest stage? - but he is an outstanding talent and team player. When he loses the ball he will hunt it down until it is back in his possession. 

Some may say that Rooney is not exactly an Arsenal player, but Wenger's model of small, nippy players has not produced any silverware since 2005. Maybe a change in policy is needed.

Rooney also loves Arsenal. Well, scoring against them at least. He burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old with a late winner for Everton against Arsenal in 2002, ending the club's 30-game unbeaten record. Rooney also played a pivotal role to end the Invincibles' incredible 49-game unbeaten record by winning a penalty at Old Trafford in 2004, not to mention his spellbinding performance in the Champions League meeting between the two in 2008/09 and his hat-trick in that infamous 8-2 drubbing at Old Trafford. In total Rooney has scored 12 times against Arsenal over the past 11 years.

In truth, most Arsenal fans can't see this happening. How many times have the Gooners had their hopes dashed by being linked with a Juan Mata or David Villa, only to end up signing someone like Gervinho?
 
At the moment it's like almost getting to bed the most generous girl in the neighbourhood. Secretly you'd love it to happen, but you wouldn't tell anyone how excited you were before the event. However, if Rooney was to join Arsenal, their title odds for next season would be slashed dramatically.

Calling all Arsenal fans: Do you think there is any truth in this rumour? Can you see Wenger being prepared to smash their wage policy to sign Rooney? Would you prefer Wenger to spend that money on other players or do you think Rooney would be a huge addition to your club? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.

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Colin Illingworth

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