Over a month on from Sir Alex Ferguson’s parting shot at Wayne Rooney, his final settling of business on his way out of the door, and the England forward’s future is no clearer.
Manchester United may still privately favour a buyer for Rooney but for all his talent and his achievements there is yet to be an obvious destination for the 27-year-old. A big bid from an attractive club would help to clarify the position but, for now at least, the situation does not look like moving anywhere quickly.
The change of managers means a change of dynamic and it is not clear how the new set-up will work. Rooney’s disagreements were seemingly primarily with Ferguson. Rooney and David Moyes – for all their previous troubles, which ended in court – may well want to share a clean slate, and despite what he said to Ferguson in the spring, the momentum for any move is probably likelier to come from the club than from the player.
But United would need a partner in this transaction and no one is immediately obvious. Rooney is probably no longer at the required level to play for Real Madrid, Barcelona or FC Bayern, although there was a surge of money on Rooney to Madrid on Friday afternoon. If he was still that good, Ferguson might have retained more faith in him.
So the likelier options are the next band down of European clubs. Manchester City have tried once before. Paris Saint-Germain, now they finally have a coach, could make an attractive offer but Rooney might not exactly be in a rush to relocate from Cheshire to France.
Chelsea might well be the best fit. For obvious reasons, they are more likely to be able to afford the necessary fee and salary for Rooney. Jose Mourinho spoke positively about him at his unveiling earlier this month. Rooney could stay in England and would have a good chance of winning trophies.
And then there is Arsenal, which, on the surface, appears an implausible destination. Not much of Rooney’s profile – high profile, well paid, well established – fits Arsenal’s wish-list. If they might have to bend their wage structure for Gonzalo Higuain, they would have to shatter it for Rooney. Alisher Usmanov said he would be “a big success” at Arsenal, which might be true, but convincing Arsene Wenger of it could be slightly harder.