Wayne Rooney is one of the best playmakers in the world, but if he doesn't want to be in Manchester, the club shouldn't force him to be.
Goal understands that Rooney’s resolve to leave Old Trafford has been strengthened by the impending appointment of David Moyes, who will be confirmed as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor on Thursday.
Sources have said that the striker, who has had his differences with Moyes in the past, is unwilling to work under his former boss and his first manager in professional football.
It's important to take rumors like these with a peanut-sized grain of salt, but in all reality, it wouldn't exactly be surprising. Rooney, who spent three years with Everton to start his senior career, did not have a good relationship with the new Manchester United manager.
And that might be putting it lightly (via The Independent's Sam Wallace):
Sam Wallace @SamWallaceTel
Wayne Rooney's autobiography, p131. "'You've been eating too many f****** McDonald's!' Moyes screamed at me. I protested it wasn't true"5/8/2013, 4:20:33 PM
There's always the possibility that United simply doesn't care. The club has already stated Rooney isn't for sale, and with two years remaining on his contract, he doesn't have a lot of leeway to free himself from the clutches of the new manager.
There's also the possibility that Rooney, who was just a kid when he was with Everton, has matured and will find a way to get along with Moyes.
But if Rooney is indeed unhappy with the new boss—or vice versa—there is little point in keeping him around. Unhappy players in negative situations create hostility that can spread throughout the locker room, drop team chemistry and quickly affect the squad's play.
That's not to say the 27-year-old Englishman isn't worth making a significant effort to keep.
According to WhoScored.com, in 27 Premier League appearances this season Rooney has 12 goals, 10 assists, 1.8 key passes per match, a pass completion percentage of 82.9 and an average match rating of 7.25.
His goal-scoring may not be lighting the EPL on fire, but Rooney's versatility as both a finisher and passer makes him a unique, dangerous threat. You don't just give up on that kind of player at the first sign of trouble.
Nevertheless, if the ruined relationship between Rooney and Moyes proves to irreparable, the Red Devils—a team with a slew of other attacking options and a deep wallet—must cut ties.
Rooney can choose just how talented he wants to be. He can choose his effort level, and if he isn't happy, the potential results will be ugly.
The veteran forward is a beloved and talented United star, but as the saying goes, if you love someone, set them free.