This may seem like a bold, or even naïve comment but it is something I have stood by ever since it became apparent that Chelsea were interested in signing Rooney. In my opinion the club has to be extremely careful about it handles the Rooney situation because there is such a fine line between a mistake and a masterstroke. Jose Mourinho clearly wants the player to come to Stamford Bridge and although it is a great excuse for him to get some early mind games in with David Moyes, Rooney does seem to be a player he actually wants to sign.
The problem is that I’m not sure Rooney is worth all the hassle anymore. I have every faith in Jose Mourinho’s ability as a man-manager and I’m sure if anyone could get Rooney firing it would be him but there is no guarantee. Of course every deal in football is a risk but with Rooney going to a club like Chelsea it becomes that much more high profile. As a form of causing a media frenzy on a regular occasion few clubs are better than Chelsea. The club possesses some of the biggest names in football, some of which tend to make very silly choices. Chelsea completely shook up the Premier League’s established elite when Roman Abramovich took over the club and they were the first to break the Manchester United/Arsenal dominance. In Jose Mourinho they have a manager who creates headlines like no-one else and once you add Rooney into the equation the papers may not bother going anywhere else. Regardless of what happens the media will be all over this transfer; if it is a success they will attack Moyes for making an unwise sale but if it fails they will label both Mourinho and in particular Rooney as failures.
Chelsea have received enough attention this summer already with Mourinho’s return and the belief that he might once again break the stranglehold the present top two have on the title. Adding a high-maintenance name like Rooney into the mixer could be highly volatile stuff. I’m not saying Chelsea should stop pursing big name players but there is a big difference between a big name player and a high-maintenance one. A high-maintenance player has all the ability of a big name player but will come with extra baggage, Chelsea already have a few of them at the club. Edinson Cavani, Falcao, Robert Lewandowski and even Mario Gomez are proven goal-scorers who don’t come with excess baggage. For another example of a player who comes with that little bit extra just ask Liverpool fans.
Players like Rooney and Suarez are supreme talents but sometimes they just aren’t worth the effort. Rooney has twice gone public on his desire to leave Old Trafford before supposedly backing down but now he has gone public again, just a short period of time after things were meant to be patched up. Rooney seems like he is upset at being second choice to Robin van Persie but even that seems remarkably pathetic. In the first instance he is behind a player who has finished as the Premier League’s top scorer for two successive seasons, in which he has hit 56 league goals. In the same time period Rooney has 39. In the second instance I’m fairly certain that Rooney’s initial frustration at United boiled over due to the perceived lack of “big name” signings. Well van Persie was one wasn’t he Wayne? Or did you mean signings everywhere asides from your position? Who’s to say Rooney won’t perform the same kind of manoeuvre if he finds himself slipping down the pecking order at Chelsea? He may find himself under threat from one of the most prodigious talents in world football but Rooney’s arrival could seriously hurt the prospects of this talent.
Romelu Lukaku has, in my eyes, the potential to be the greatest player in the world, I rate him that highly. The sheer power that the 20 year old already has is combined with a fierce determination both on and off the field and an unstoppable desire to succeed. He may have earned all sorts of comparisons with his icon, Didier Drogba but for me Lukaku could completely re-write the history books. He could become the new level at which all are judged but in order to do that Chelsea are going to have to have faith in him. He is at a tender age but so were the likes of Messi, Ronaldo and even Rooney when they were given their first breaks in their teams’ first teams. Of course all three were often playing with more experienced players around him but in “the three amigos” Lukaku has a supporting cast with ages of 21, 22 and 25. Add in Victor Moses, Kevin de Bruyne and Andre Schurrle, all just 22, and suddenly you start to see why Mourinho is looking for an experienced forward like Rooney. Yes he has Fernando Torres and Demba Ba but the former can no longer be relied upon and the latter has been anything but convincing since his move from Newcastle.
If Chelsea play Lukaku from day one and make a signal of intent towards the Belgian that he is their main man I’d expect him to flourish. He received total backing from Steve Clarke at West Brom once he settled and now he is settled at Chelsea he needs to receive a similar gesture from Mourinho. Lukaku scored 17 league goals last season but that was (with all respect to West Brom) with a midfield that was hardly brimming with quality. Chris Brunt and James Morrison are both very intelligent footballers but if you give Lukaku the likes of Oscar, Hazard and Mata behind him he could become lethal. Chelsea’s midfield trio, whoever fills the slots, will always create an abundance of chances (207 between Oscar, Hazard and Mata last season) and Lukaku (who converted 21.5% of his chances last season) should get on the end of most.
There are of course, many reasons why Chelsea should sign Wayne Rooney. Firstly they will be getting a proven Premier League player, a Champions League winner and an England icon. Rooney is star material because he has produced big performance after big performance on the football field. He is a merchandising dream and his attitude and work-rate are something you can’t really put a price on him. He has evolved into so much more than a goal-scorer during his time at Old Trafford; he has become a complete footballer. His tackling is better than most in his position and his passing is often pin-point. He may have fallen out of love with the game in the last season but if Mourinho can reignite his spark the potential is huge.
All of the above though is based on the Rooney we saw a few seasons ago, a Rooney we haven’t seen for a while. Of course Mourinho could potentially get him firing on all cylinders but he could equally fail to motivate him and Rooney could drift out of English football altogether. When you combine his fee and his wages he will not be a cheap signing and I know a lot of Chelsea fans who want Rooney, namely because it’ll be a big signing but I’m not sure he is the one they need. Falcao or Cavani could well have been perfect but in reality are they worth signing if Lukaku racks in 20+ goals and develops even further next season? Even if Rooney came in and scored 25 goals or more I’d prefer to see Lukaku do well and establish himself in the first team. Chelsea paid around £17 million for this kid, he has done his time on loan and proven himself in the league, he deserves his chance. Chelsea gave it to Oscar and Hazard last season and that worked out pretty well, Lukaku has earned this.
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