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Replacing Rooney: 6 Options

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney puts on a coat after being substituted as manager Alex Ferguson (R) looks on during their English Premier League soccer match against Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton, northern England, September 26, 2010. REUTERS/Phil Noble (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) NO ONLINE/INTERNET USAGE WITHOUT A LICENCE FROM THE FOOTBALL DATA CO LTD. FOR LICENCE ENQUIRIES PLEASE TELEPHONE ++44 (0)
Ever since the news broke there was a palpable sense of disbelief amongst fans, the media and Blogs. We awaited hearing from the men at the centre of the story and we got that hearing today. It appears that Sir Alex Ferguson is as shaken by this news as we are even though he has had since mid-August to digest this news. Regardless Manchester United are counting the cost of having a Rooney sized hole in their plans, so far this season Rooney has been largely anonymous and certainly not the player we had become used to seeing.

Come January if the issue has not been resolved (it appears that the statement today was the attempt by Manchester United to put the ball firmly in Rooney’s court) United will need to cash in on their damaged goods. The figures bandied about are between 5-50 million depending on the level of interest and the parties involved. In my view it will probably be a trip to Madrid or across Manchester in the region of 30 million pounds, though the possibility of a ‘Webster’ transfer remains. Should a transfer take place, the Manchester club will need to reinvest to maintain their status as an elite European team; I lay out below 6 options to replace the irreplaceable.

The Replacements: The European stars who just might be available.

Karim Benzema: A name that has not been far from United in gossip columns. It is no secret that the Frenchman is not happy with his current role in Madrid and speculation is rife that Mourinho is unhappy with his attitude. A powerful second striker in the same mould as Rooney both his youth (he has two years on Wayne) and potential would make him the obvious solution to the Rooney problem.

That is, of course, that his off-the-field issues are resolved, Benzema is currently implicated in the same scandal as Franck Ribery as they both are investigated in unseemly circumstances by the french police. Benzema has also not exhibited the form he had shown in France since leaving so if he were to be a direct replacement it is still far from ideal.

Edin Džeko: The Bosnian striker has been the talk of Europe over the summer as doomed attempts were made to try to prise him from Wolfsburg. However since their indifferent start to the German league campaign the Wolves just may be tempted into accepting United’s money. A tall, powerful striker Džeko has been scoring a ton in Germany. At 24 and with form on his side he could provide the firepower that Rooney has been lacking.

The problem though is that United already have an out-and-out striker currently in form. Dimitar Berbatov has performed well in an otherwise under-performing team. With their captain unavailable and their left-back AWOL. United have suffered, signing another player to literally step on Berbatov’s toes does not fit into any system that United currently employ. Džeko is good, possibly great but not a fit for Manchester.

Luis Suarez: The Uruguayan hero/villain was one of the stories of the World Cup, not just because of his volleyball impression. Suarez showed how effective he could be, crafty (not in that way) he scores goals by moving into the channels and finishing with aplomb. However he provides extra value in his leadership (he is the current Ajax captain) and shows a maturity beyond his 23 years. Ajax have been a selling club for at least a decade now and United could use a friendly move for Suarez to set up a less than friendly move for their goalkeeper in the summer.

The issue with Suarez though is the fear of trusting the goalscoring record from Holland. Of the top scorers in dutch football who have since moved to England only one has succeeded as a goal-scorer – Ruud Van Nistelrooy, if United’s scouts can pick the wheat from the chaff (here’s looking at you Kuyt, Kezman and especially Alves) it could be an excellent pick-up.

The Future: Replacing Rooney with youth.

Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero: Maradona’s son in law has been on the scene for a while now.Starting at an impossibly young age at Independiente (15 years and 37 days) he has scored regularly for his club(s) and his country. At 22 he is the same age as Benzema but is not held in the same regard as his game is not as complete as that of the Frenchman. An electrifying player Aguero has been on the radar of most of the European big hitters for a few seasons but has yet to be swayed to a new club. Seemingly happy at Atletico he enjoys a starting role and Champions League football already. Aguero would probably not be available for the same money that United will recoup from Rooney.

Neymar: The 18 year old Brazilian sensation was tipped for a move to Chelsea at the end of the transfer window though nothing was agreed. At 18 he would certainly have a long future ahead of him and his talent is obvious. A tricky winger/second striker with the happy knack of scoring goals Neymar is the latest hot prospect from the football factory called Brazil. Currently with Santos he would not cost as much as Aguero would. The issue though is that of Mentality. In signing a precocious talent from Brazil you take a significant risk especially if not to a Latin country. For every Ronaldinho and Pato there is a Denilson or Adriano (the fat Roma one), signing Neymar would be a very expensive gamble and given his lack of experiance of Europe he doesn’t carry the tag of ‘world-class’ just yet.

The Stop-Gap: If the money is not spent in whole it could be spent on this player.

Mirko Vucinic: There is no doubting the Montenegran’s caliber, we were denied the opportunity to see him in full flow at Wembley but when he is he can be devastating. At 27 he is significantly older than the players above but as Roma grapple with ownership issues and a start that just saw them beaten, at home, by Basel he may just be available to the European elite. A winger by trade he would not directly replace Rooney but his strength, guile and technique would fit well into the United system. I imagine that a relationship could be formed with Berbatov but it would hardly set the fans hearts racing to see him gather the ball. More functional than explosive Vucinic is indeed a very good player bordering on great but he wouldn’t capture the imagination as the White Pélé would.

Finally on a personal note, if you enjoy my writing which has included the articles hotlinked to these words and you have the disposable time then could you vote for me on part 5 at the Not 100% Football Blogger Awards. You can also follow me @kipp9 on twitter.

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  1. Wayne Grooney

    October 20, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    In this age of spin I am not surprised to hear Rooney’s reason for leaving is far from the obvious truth. Unfortunately, he will revert to his former scouser scum status in the eyes of the United faithful having turned his back on the club that has prevented him from becoming a clone of the car crash that is Gazza. The fact that he is prepared to run across town for a lucrative contract does little to endear the ugliest footballer in England. Hopefully united will spend some of the cash gained from the sale of the FA CUP look-a-like, and with any luck, a Liverpool like excorcism will follow.

  2. Ollie

    October 20, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    This is the best thing that could happen to United.
    Rooney has always been overrated. His goals last season were very often tap-ins or easy chances(a few exceptions). The players who created his chances often went unnoticed. This is also the reason why he ‘underperforms’ for England. Because there are no players giving him the chance to tap the ball into the net.
    In many games, if you watch the whole 90 minutes, you will find that Rooney gives the ball away far more than any other player on the team.
    Now that these chances are dwindling (thanks to other players’ poor form or injuries to creative players), his incapacities are becoming noticed but people still believe it is just a ‘poor run of form.
    United should count themselves lucky because Rooney will continue to play badly wherever he goes and you could get a lot of money for him.
    Maybe this could give rise to a really talented player to emerge again from the great Old Trafford.

  3. Jeff

    October 20, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    I know some of you are saying they have no money to spend, but regardless they are going to have to spend to replace a player like Rooney. They can’t afford not to. They must spend whatever they get for him and maybe more in order to replace the marquee name that is Rooney.

    • Earl Reed

      October 20, 2010 at 1:31 pm

      Don’t worry, Bebe will pick up the slack!

  4. Earl Reed

    October 20, 2010 at 9:50 am

    So Rooney is jumping off the sinking ship, and someone else is going to want to play there? They’ll just have to ride Giggs and Scholes until they’re 90.

  5. Billy

    October 20, 2010 at 6:15 am

    Aguero not held in the same regard as Benzema, are you serious?? Aguero is already far better, the best player for Atletico and one of the best in La Liga, don’t make me laugh.

    • me

      October 20, 2010 at 5:48 pm


  6. robert tugume

    October 20, 2010 at 3:39 am

    let wyne go to where he fills can do better now, and i know fergie and his staff are campable to find a posimble replacement and i would prefer karim because he wants to prove it at another club may be and suarez yes bet option still our mid needs a sergery

  7. why oh why

    October 20, 2010 at 3:03 am

    utd cant afford any of these players and why would they sign for a club in debt losing their best player?

  8. OllieWillie

    October 20, 2010 at 1:45 am

    What I actually think will happen is that he’ll be sold (for half of what he’s worth) and we’ll use half the money to re service the debts and half of it to stock the midfield.

    I’d like to think Defour, Paulo ‘Goose’ Henrique, Hamsik or Honda would be on the radar.

    We need to look at strengthening the middle of the park more than a striker (with or without Rooney).

    Scholes and Giggs can’t go on for ever and Hargreaves, Carrick and Anderson could be on their way out.

  9. Konark

    October 19, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    No Pato in these options ? Also Aguero is a fairly established striker not just a young player. Fabiano might also be a good stop-gap solution but don’t think Fergie will go for it..
    I think Suarez is the best option for us followed by Pato.

    • Chris McQuade

      October 19, 2010 at 9:06 pm

      Pato is happy at Milan at the moment. Especially with Ronny and Robby there too. Pato is an exceptional talent no doubt but I can’t see
      a)Milan selling him – Berlusconi is mad but not stupid
      b)United affording him

  10. Andrew Card

    October 19, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    Rooney and Torres can switch places. Both are struggling for form right now. Won’t happen, but I’m sure many Man U fans won’t mind and there are some Liverpool fans who might not mind having another Scouser there. Love to hear what Man U and Liverpool fans think of such a switch.

    • Chris McQuade

      October 19, 2010 at 8:57 pm

      I had a post drawn up in my mind that purely tactically it made sense. Couldn’t flesh it out past an idea. It’s just too unlikely.

      • Jeff

        October 20, 2010 at 1:08 am

        not only trading players with these two clubs are unlikely, does anyone remember what happened with Gabriel Heinze when he tried to go to Liverpool? He ended up joining Real Madrid instead because Man United & Liverpool hate each other. name the last player who had crossed that divide, and that should tell you something.

    • Lamby

      October 20, 2010 at 2:09 am

      An ex Everton player at Liverpool?

  11. Rob McCluskey

    October 19, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Considering their fragile financial position, I’d imagine replacing Rooney would be Diouf, Macheda, Bebe or Welbeck…

    • Dave's Football Blog

      October 19, 2010 at 9:09 pm

      Exactly. The notion that Neymar would be at United over Macheda or Welbeck is pretty ridiculous. Three of those four plus Chicharito are the future up front for United.

  12. Joe Chen

    October 19, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Luis Fabiano is a cheaper option. Older than a lot of the names mentioned but can be bridge the gap until Macheda and Welbeck are ready to play.

    • Chris McQuade

      October 19, 2010 at 9:00 pm

      Fabiano falls into the Dzeko/Berbatov mould. Dzeko makes it based on his ability and crucially youth.

  13. OllieWillie

    October 19, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    You’ve done very little research into the players you talked about…………… Disappointing because I was looking forward to reading something like this from you guys.

    Aguero is much more than youth having played as a starting striker for Atletico for 3 years now.

    Oh and Berbatov is far from an out and out striker which anyone who watches United play would know. Chicharito is though

    • Chris McQuade

      October 19, 2010 at 8:51 pm

      Perhaps Aguero is Miscategorized: He has been a leading striker/support striker for 3 years as you rightly say. However i did bump him down because Atletico have no real reason to sell and he has no reason to move. An option? Yes, but not for the money being talked about.

      As for Berbatov I struggle to find another role he would fit into, he plays with his back to goal and doesn’t come back into defence. He’s not a support striker/false 9 but not a Drogba either. I plumped for ‘out and out’ to get across that Dzeko would play in the exact same way.

      I also disagree on Chicarito – he would be playing off Berbatov making secondary runs, though his heading ability is quite good for someone of that ilk.

      • OllieWillie

        October 20, 2010 at 1:38 am

        He’s a striker there is no debate but an out an out striker is a term I’ve always found associated with player who have littler to do with build up play and just get on the end of a final move (i.e. Fabiano, Inzagi, Ruud, etc.) Berbatov is a player known for his flicks and well weighted throug balls as much as his goals. He’s also a player who never loses the ball when he gets it and is a strong dribbler in close quarters. If he was any faster there is no doubt he’d be playing as a central attacking midfielder (Kaka or Sneijder) exclusively like he’s often done for Bulgaria.

        Dzeko is much more likely to get on the end of moves than be involved in the build up play. Which isn’t a bad thing.

        Chicha is built to break an offside trap. He’s constantly lurking on the shoulder and looking to make a run. He’s also got fantastic instincts, always appearing at the right time to tap in. He’s very much in the Ole Gunnar mould.

  14. True Gooner

    October 19, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    For Forlan United is “been there, done that, don’t wanna keep the t-shirt!”

  15. Sir Guy

    October 19, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    Terry, from another thread, is right. This story will not go away until he is signed somewhere else. In the meantime the speculation will go on and on and on, ad nauseam.

    Final comment (on this subject 😉 ) until he is signed……yawwwwwwn.

    • Chris McQuade

      October 19, 2010 at 8:28 pm

      No doubt but as I was reading the articles today it’s about where he will go, for how much, when etc. I thought a little rundown on the options out there wouldn’t go amiss.

      • Sir Guy

        October 20, 2010 at 9:31 am

        I actually liked your article. As you say, just stating some options. I’m just already tired of the “story”. This thing is going to be like one of my vinyl records that skips back to the same groove over and over and……..

  16. Smokey Bacon

    October 19, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    The best available striker out there…..Diego Forlan! Seriously, he could be a great foil for Berbatov and vice-versa.

    • Chris McQuade

      October 19, 2010 at 8:19 pm

      Yes that’s true about berba, but at 31? And you do know they tried this before?

      • Smokey Bacon

        October 19, 2010 at 8:25 pm

        Forlan has improved a bit on last time around judging by his performances at the world cup and in Spain.

        • sharon

          October 20, 2010 at 8:13 am

          Forlan (apparantly) will not play in England ?

  17. Sean

    October 19, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Haha United will get none of the above!

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