Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney: Could They Play Together?

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2013

Manchester United are set for a summer of change with long-serving manager Alex Ferguson retiring and David Moyes coming in to take his place, leaving the futures of some of the playing staff up for discussion too.

One of the players whose future is under speculation is Wayne Rooney.

The attacker was reported to have handed in a transfer request, as reported in this BBC article, around the end of the season, and now there are rumours circulating that French Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain are prepared to shell out serious money to take Rooney abroad, according to Mirror Football.

It's an interesting move to consider, not least of all because PSG already have themselves a world-renowned centre-forward, none other than Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Could he and Rooney gel to form a partnership?


PSG's Season

PSG still have one match left in their domestic season, but are 10 points clear at the top ahead of Marseille and will be keen to make an impression on the European stage next season as well as solidify their new-found domestic domination.

With boss Carlo Ancelotti in charge this season, they have generally favoured a fairly narrow 4-2-2-2 system with two holding midfielders, Javier Pastore and Lucas Moura, in the attacking roles—the latter offering rather more width than the former—and Ezequiel Lavezzi playing up top alongside Zlatan.

The Swedish forward has been the star of the show, scoring 29 league goals to take the top scorer award and win the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award, as reported by BBC.

Some changes will be in the offing over the summer, though, with the BBC reporting that Ancelotti has asked to leave the club. He is a target for the Real Madrid manager vacancy.

PSG are known to have huge reserves of money to spend, as they already have done so to bring the likes of Thiago Silva, Lavezzi, Lucas Moura and Pastore to the club, so the estimated £40 million fee to sign Rooney would present no issue.


Rooney and Zlatan

While Ibrahimovic is the go-to man up front, he does not remain central. A player of his natural talent and sizable ego merely moves where he feels he will receive the ball in the most dangerous areas, and it is not uncommon to see Zlatan drifting wide or dropping a little deeper.

Lavezzi has provided the industry and pace to make the most of the spaces Ibrahimovic leaves around him, though his scoring record has been nowhere near as good, netting just three times in the league this term.

Zlatan isn't only a goalscorer for PSG, as he claimed seven assists and made more key passes per game on average than any of his teammates. It might be the view of the technical and coaching staff that replacing Lavezzi with another forward with a better eye for goal might be the best way of getting even more out of Zlatan.

Rooney hasn't had his best season in terms of goals at Manchester United, scoring just 12 league goals, but he does have a proven history of hitting the back of the net and averages a goal every 2.2 games in his entire Premier League career. This doesn't drop much when Champions League football is considered, with Rooney finding the target every 2.6 games in that competition.

Aside from goals, when he is fit and in form, Rooney works hard, is tactically aware and conscientious. This is important if PSG hope to overcome the bigger and better sides in Europe next season.

In addition, he is capable of playing as a true striker or in a supporting act—both useful when dealing with the unpredictable nature of Ibrahimovic's movement and decision-making.



Does Rooney want to go to France? That would be the first question. He has been linked with moves away from Old Trafford before, but this seems to be the closest he has come to actually departing. There do not appear to be too many other clubs in the Premier League who could, or would, sign him, so heading abroad might be Rooney's only option.

He doesn't fit at Barcelona, Bayern Munich will not need him, Juventus have a whole host of forwards already and are seemingly signing Gonzalo Higuain, according to Goal.com—that perhaps leaves Real Madrid, or PSG and Monaco in France.

Though Rooney's wages are extraordinarily high at United, both PSG and Monaco would likely be capable of competing at that level. Playing alongside top names in the European game would certainly help, and PSG have no shortage of those. They also reached the Champions League quarterfinals this season, one round further than Rooney's present team, Manchester United, managed.

The image of Wayne Rooney in Paris isn't, culturally speaking, one that seems the easiest to imagine, but a huge sporting project, vast financial incentives and a chance to restart his career as he moves into what should be his prime years might be extremely tempting for the former Everton forward.

Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic as a strike partnership has the potential for fireworks and compelling viewing, and it also has the potential to fire PSG to significant title glory.


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