Wayne Rooney has turned in a transfer request which was denied by Manchester United. Claiming that he was not in the right frame of mind to play, Alex Ferguson left Rooney out of the 18-man squad for his farewell match at Old Trafford. Even though new United manager David Moyes has praised Rooney and will reportedly try to keep him around, his transfer saga will probably go on into the summer.
Rooney has asked to leave United before, and his transfer request back in 2010 helped to produce one of the greatest rants ever from Ian Holloway. Ferguson convinced him to stay. Now, Ferguson is leaving, and Rooney might not feel like sticking around. Unfortunately for him, unless he's willing to take a massive pay cut, there aren't a lot of places for him to go. Here's a look at all of the places Rooney could end up come August.
Yes, we have to start here. Rooney has asked to leave and ultimately stayed put, and it could very well happen again. David Moyes could come in, promise Rooney that he'll be a key player and start him in every big match next season. Rooney could return to top form and everyone will be happy. He's bounced back from bad seasons before and he's changed his mind about leaving Manchester United before.
Likelihood: Very high
But would it be fun?: No, not really
Even though PSG already have a top center forward who can drop deep to pick up the ball and distribute in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it certainly wouldn't hurt them to have another one of those players. Plus, there's no reason why Ibrahimovic and Rooney can't play together. Kevin Gameiro is a nice player, but certainly not a superstar. Ezequiel Lavezzi is better out wide than up top. Lucas Moura and Jeremy Menez haven't played much in the center for PSG, while Javier Pastore spent quite a bit of time on the left wing late in the season. They have the money to buy anyone and they have a place for Rooney.
But would it be fun?: Of course, who doesn't want to watch a Zlatan-Rooney partnership?
City is the team Rooney wanted to join back in 2010 before he got a big pay raise. Obviously, they can pay his transfer fee and wages. Edin Dzeko has been rumored to be on his way out for a while, while Carlos Tevez is perpetually in a state of potentially requesting a transfer. He could stay at City for the rest of his career or demand to leave tomorrow. While Sergio Aguero is City's best forward -- and will remain first choice even if Rooney arrives -- there's probably a spot for Rooney here. David Moyes and the United board probably won't be thrilled about selling to a direct rival, though.
Likelihood: Low, United might take an 'Anyone but City' transfer policy
But would it be fun?: Ehh, he's kind of just a crappier version of Sergio Aguero
Chelsea need striker depth and could certainly pay for whoever they feel like paying for. While Rooney's been more of an attacking midfielder in recent years -- and heaven knows Chelsea don't need one of those -- he could definitely fit in as a center forward for them. Fernando Torres is average at best, and Demba Ba's perpetually at risk of blowing out his knee, though he's stayed healthy for a few seasons now. Chelsea don't really have financial constraints, but they'd probably like to move part of Torres' salary elsewhere before making a move like this.
Likelihood: Higher than City, but still low. United almost certainly consider them a direct rival.
But would it be fun?: Assuming Chelsea isn't a cursed place where rival teams' stars go to die? Yes.
Mario Mandzukic and Mario Gomez are both adequate at the highest level and no Bayern fan has any serious complaints about their current striking corps, but they're certainly not stars. Claudio Pizarro is 34 and probably off shortly. If Pep Guardiola feels like switching things up and going to a 4-3-3 formation with Toni Kroos taking up an Andres Iniesta role instead of sticking with Bayern's current 4-2-3-1, Rooney would probably make a better fit for the center forward role than Bayern's current strikers and could make a nifty left forward as well. His best is certainly better than Mandzukic's best, and he's more consistent than Gomez. If Pep sticks with a 4-2-3-1, he's a sick four-position backup/super sub.
He's not clearly a massive upgrade over anyone on Bayern's team, but then again, who is? The Bavarians have money and they want to spend it. They could do worse than adding Rooney.
Likelihood: Certainly possible, though less likely than PSG because of their current depth.
But would it be fun?: Yes, absolutely.
The Old Lady have finally gotten back to their pre-2006 level, or close to it, with one exception: the striker position. Their defense and midfield are among the best in the world, but they're currently rotating a stable of very average squad players up top. Fernando Llorente will help that, but Juventus will want a world class second striker to pair with him. Rooney fits the bill perfectly in terms of talent and style. His game should make him a perfect compliment to Llorente, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio. They're going to contend for a treble next season. This team and Rooney fit each other perfectly.
Except for one problem: Wages. Juventus are a historically massive club and the biggest club in Italy, but the world has changed in the last decade. They can't compete with the teams at the top of Europe's other leagues in terms of salaries. Unless Rooney had a boyhood dream to play for Juventus and is willing to take a pay cut, this isn't happening.
Likelihood: Low, due to Rooney's current wages.
But would it be fun?: It would be spectacular. He's a perfect fit.
Evaluating Rooney's fit at Madrid and their potential interest is difficult without knowing who is going to manage them next season. Provided it's Carlo Ancelotti, his acquisition certainly isn't out of the question. Both Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema have been linked to moves away from the Bernabeu, along with Angel Di Maria. There could be a starting spot up top or on the wing for Rooney at Madrid, but is he really the player they want? Neymar and Edinson Cavani are almost certainly ahead of Rooney on their wishlist to fill those roles.
Likelihood: Average, but it's tough to call at the moment
But would it be fun?: It's actually very easy to see Rooney flaming out spectacularly in Madrid. This is probably the least fun option, and I say that as someone who thinks Madrid play the most entertaining football in the world.
Given the current rumor that Bayern Munich are working on stealing Neymar from the Blaugrana, this wouldn't be a horrible fit. Alexis Sanchez has been mostly poor at Barcelona, while David Villa hasn't been his best in a long time. It's looking increasingly likely that Sanchez will never be what Barcelona thought he would be and that Villa has enough miles on his legs that he will never be the same. It might take him a year to learn the system and blend in perfectly, but Rooney could certainly fit in well on Messi's left like Thierry Henry and David Villa did during their best years.
Likelihood: If Neymar signs, there's no chance. If Neymar goes to Bayern, who knows what Barca's backup plan is?
But would it be fun?: There would be growing pains, but eventually, yes.
Full disclosure: I am a Tottenham Hotspur supporter and run SB Nation's Tottenham blog. This, like Juventus, is going to come down to a case of whether or not Rooney has some sort of secret desire to play for the team. Spurs broke their previous wage structure to sign Emmanuel Adebayor and extend Gareth Bale, but they'd have to shatter it to sign Rooney. Chances are, they don't have the money. He'd have to take a pay cut to join. Spurs need a striker desperately, though, and he'd certainly be guaranteed to start every game. If Spurs got some magic rich investor and Rooney secretly wanted to play for Spurs/move to London, United would probably be willing to sell him to Spurs, as they probably don't consider them to be a direct rival.
Likelihood: Come on, Spurs don't have this kind of money.
But would it be fun?: Spurs are already pretty fun with crap strikers, so yes.
Watching Robin van Persie in a Manchester United shirt and Fernando Torres in a Chelsea shirt has been really weird, so we might as well weird things up some more. Arsenal would have to shatter their wage structure, just like Juve and Tottenham, to sign Rooney. Unlike those two, however, Arsenal have the money to pay him if they really want to. Arsene Wenger still has extensive control over the business aspects of Arsenal's operation, however, and almost certainly is not going to approve paying anyone what Rooney makes.
Likelihood: Low as long as Wenger is in charge, and probably not great even if he leaves
But would it be fun?: He'd probably fit in very well and give the squad the bit of directness they're missing. This would be awesome to watch.