Wayne Rooney future in doubt, say Sunday Supplement panel

Last Updated: 02/05/13 4:21pm

Wayne Rooney has failed to fulfil his potential at Manchester United and could be leaving Old Trafford before the start of next season.

That's the verdict of The Sun's Neil Custis as speculation grows around the England talisman's future.

"We should be talking about Rooney in the same breath as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, if you look at what he was doing five years ago. We're not."

Neil Custis

Rumours of Rooney's unrest at United first emerged in October 2010, when Sir Alex Ferguson told the press his striker wanted to leave the club.

Although problems at that time were patched up Rooney's absence from United's starting line-up in their crunch Champions League round of 16 second leg against Real Madrid in March reignited rumours the former Everton ace had fallen out with Ferguson.

Since then Rooney has returned to the first XI, but often playing in midfield, rather than his preferred forward role, and Custis believes the 27-year-old could be heading for the exit door this summer.

"We should be talking about Rooney in the same breath as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, if you look at what he was doing five years ago," he told the Sunday Supplement.

"We're not. We're talking about where do we fit Rooney into the team now - and do Manchester United still need him.

"Wayne Rooney is still a great player but a player who was relied on as a fast, explosive striker, a goal-getter and creator, he's now playing in a deep-lying midfield role in front of the back four. Dwight Yorke, when he finished his career in his early 30s played in that role because he wasn't fast or a striker anymore. Wayne Rooney is 27.

"When he plays in that role, yes, he's a fantastic passer of the ball - but I'm not convinced he's going to be there next season."

Problem

Jonathan Northcroft from the Sunday Times concurred and said Rooney's desire to be United's star striker and Ferguson's belief he can contribute more to the side from midfield could cause ructions between the two.

"From what I understand Wayne himself sees himself as a forward," said Northcroft.

"Although he's been willing to play where he's asked to play, he sees himself as a striker and long-term there might be a problem there, especially if United go out and sign another striker, which they look like doing.

"Wayne Rooney wasn't supposed to be a great squad player, he was billed - and expected himself - to become one of the world's stars. It's a big summer for him with two years left on his contract."

However, Northcroft pointed out it would take vast sums of money to prize the forward away from the club, with any potential suitors needing to fork out large amounts not only for a transfer fee but also for the player's wages.

"Like a lot of these things it comes down to finances," he said.

"Anyone who wants to buy Wayne Rooney will have to pay a lot of money, pay serious wages and he's 27. There's only a fair few clubs who could entice United."