Jose Mourinho likes Wayne Rooney. David Moyes won't assure Wayne Rooney that he's guaranteed a place in the starting eleven. Wayne Rooney is reportedly upset, and would welcome a move to London to join up with BFF Ashley Cole. All that is building up to one of the most interesting transfer stories in a long time, because Rooney is the rare player that has the potential to be either one of the best or worst signings in the history of the Premier League.
An in-form Wayne Rooney would walk into this squad and take over as our first choice center forward. Please don't take that as a knock on any of Demba Ba, Fernando Torres, or Romelu Lukaku, because it's not. We've all seen Wayne Rooney at his lethal best, and it's hard to argue against the signing if that's the player we'd be signing.
The problem here is that Rooney has been in top form at an alarmingly low rate of late. He's coming off the back of an absolutely dreadful season, which was following a year where he was among the better players in the league. The year prior to that, Rooney was roughly equivalent to the Chelsea version of Fernando Torres, which followed a season that he and Didier Drogba took the Golden Boot race to the final minutes of the campaign.
Rooney isn't just a center forward though, as it's easy to make an argument that he's better on either the wing or in support of a more traditional number nine. He's even played in more of a central midfield role, and he did that very well. That sort of versatility is something that just hasn't existed in any of the other center forward targets that we've been linked to over the past several summers, as most are pretty useless when they aren't the focal point of the attack.
On the flip side of that, many of those other roles Rooney could play are dependent on the player maintaining a superior level of fitness. In his early years in the league, Rooney always boasted an exceptional work rate despite looking a little "doughy" around the midsection. In the past several seasons though, his work rate hasn't looked nearly as impressive. Rooney has never been noted for his exceptional nutrition and training habits, and it looks as if those deficiencies have been impacting his usefulness in many roles of late.
Rooney is a big, big name, as the number of fans that want Chelsea to go after him just due to that name recognition would attest to. He's also homegrown, which would be more than a little useful going forward as some of Chelsea's older homegrown player depart the club. Recognition is always good, and it always helps to have England's most popular player in the squad as long as he's producing on the pitch.
With that name and Englishness comes an awfully large financial hit. Rooney makes a weekly wage that makes Fernando Torres look downright reasonable, and that ridiculous salary would likely be compounded by a not-insubstantial transfer fee which would be required to make Manchester United sell to a direct rival. While I'm certain they'd be more than willing to unload an unhappy Rooney and his wages, watching him rebound at Chelsea would be an absolute PR nightmare. Rooney would require the largest FFP hit on the team, and he'd substantially raise the upper end of the wage structure at Chelsea. That's not something I'm comfortable with from a player that's been mostly awful for two of the past three seasons.
This is going to be one of the more interesting transfer stories to watch that we've had here at Chelsea recently, as this would be as big a boom or bust transfer as I can ever remember talking about. If Jose Mourinho were to buy a highly motivated Wayne that was willing to play whatever role was required of him, we'd have one of the most hard to come by commodities that the game has to offer. The number of players currently capable of playing in the midfield, as a number 10, as a second striker, on a wing, or leading the line by himself while doing each at a world class level can probably be counted on three fingers*. He's the kind of player that you can fit into any system, and put any sort of personnel around without making Rooney less effective.
*Hi Messi. Hi Ronaldo.
He's also the sort of player that can be absolutely worthless for long stretches at a time, and one of the best man-managers in the history of the sport seemed to be getting less effective at getting anything out of him. In the era of FFP, it's hard to be carrying a player like Fernando Torres who is carrying a massive FFP hit while producing at the level he is. Add in the significant possibility of a virtually worthless Rooney on an even bigger FFP hit, and Chelsea could find themselves in a situation where they can't re-sign some of their bright young talent because they have to pay a pair of mopey malcontents.
Like Daniele De Rossi, (motivated) Rooney is a nearly ideal fit from a tactical sense for Chelsea. Because of that, I'd be ok with sniffing around on Rooney if the club can reduce the substantial risk involved. I'd reduce that risk ia several ways though, requiring concessions from both United and Rooney.
First, I'm not going anywhere near £20-25 million upfront when talking about a potential fee. I'd want to see the fee kept relatively low, with appearance based increases and potentially a percentage of future sales. This would allow us a bit of a safety net if Wayne can't stay out of the kitchen, as we'd be able to keep our sunk cost reasonable by burying him on the bench. I have no idea if this is something United would go for, but if it isn't, I'd just move on.
Second, and more importantly, I'm going to look for some contractual concessions from Rooney. He's not getting five years form me if I'm in Michael Emenalo's shoes, the highest I'd guarantee is four. I'd also be trying to get the Shrek look-a-like give us a club option for a fifth, as an option year can't hurt the club in any conceivable way.
Rooney's wages scare the hell out of me, but not because of the wage itself. If we were to get a motivated, hard working Rooney, he'd absolutely be worth his current pay. He's proved that's a major question mark though, so I'd be demanding a much lower guaranteed salary with incentives for performance and appearances. Very little outside of money seems to motivate Rooney to stay as fit as he should, so a contract that forces him to do so in order to earn the big bucks would take a substantial amount of risk away.
In the end, I just think the terms I'd require to make me feel truly comfortable are something we won't see considered. I have a feeling that insisting on all of those being met would result in no Rooney at Chelsea, and because of the risk involved, I'm more than ok with that. I'd like to see us sniff around the situation just to see if we can't get a huge risk/reward type of player on somewhat favorable terms**, and be prepared to turn and run as soon as the first stumbling block appeared.
**And the side benefit of upseting United fans while potentially unsettling their player is ok by me as well
What do you all think on the situation though? I can't imagine any (sane) Chelsea fan that wouldn't welcome a fit and motivated Rooney to the Blues with open arms, but at the same time, we rarely see a fit and motivated Rooney anymore. How far would you go to acquire the Englishman's services, or would you not bother to pick up the phone at all?