Anyone who watched the Europa League Final will have heard the commentators – at least in the United Kingdom – talk about it most likely being Wayne Rooney’s last match with Manchester United.
The Englishman saw nearly 900 fewer minutes in the Premier League this season and spent much of his time coming off of the bench, 10 times in all. Making things worse, Rooney scored his the fewest goals of his Premier League career, tallying just five goals. In each of the last three seasons, the striker has seen his goals tally fall along with his influence on the team.
According to reports, Rooney has a number of offers on the table. Of course, there are the rumours of China’s big money clubs ready to splurge on the Old Trafford legend. There are also the ubiquitous reports of teams in Major League Soccer thirsty to sign the Englishman to be the next name to raise the profile of soccer in Norther America. Although at 31 years of age, Rooney has far less appeal Stateside than David Beckham did when he traded Madrid for Los Angeles. The handsome sex appeal of Beckham was part of what made him such a lucrative player in America and it combined well with his play on the pitch.
There are still plenty of English clubs that would love to have a player like Rooney in their team. But his £300,000 a week deal will be a problem for many of the clubs outside of the top five. And even then, would any of those clubs have room for an ageing forward who has declined rapidly since 2010?
Perhaps the last image that Manchester United fans will have of Wayne Rooney will be his raising of the Europa League trophy at the club beat Ajax, 2-0. If it is to be a farewell moment, it won’t quite be the fond goodbye that many high-quality club servants have received. But then again, Beckham didn’t receive the send off he would have want when he left either.
While he isn’t the same age as Roma’s Francesco Totti, and nowhere near the same quality, the two played a similar off the bench role in 2016-17. Fans may have wanted more from their heroes, but the simple truth that their teams were better with them on the bench was apparent. Wayne Rooney can still play at a high-level, just as Totti, but doing it with Manchester United may not be an option next season.
Wayne Rooney key stats 2016-17:
- 5 goals, 1 from the penalty spot
- 5 assists
- 31.16 passes per game
- 6 big chances missed
- 8 yellow cards