As the news broke Thursday about Wayne Rooney's hamstring, a two-sided story emerged. One side dealt with the facts, the other in speculation.
First, the facts. Per ManUtd.com, Rooney will not take part in Manchester United's preseason tour of Asia after suffering a hamstring injury. Here's the exact wording from the club's official statement:
Following a scan this evening on a hamstring injury sustained in training, it has been decided that Wayne Rooney should return home immediately for further assessment and rehabilitation.
It is anticipated he will be unavailable for selection for a month.
Coincidentally, one month from today, Manchester United will play Wigan Athletic at Wembley in the FA Community Shield. Six days later, United will begin their Premier League title defense with a trip to Swansea City.
But the story didn't end there. The second part, the speculation, followed quickly. With The Independent heavily linking Rooney with a move to Chelsea on the same day as the news of the hamstring injury, suspicions were inevitably elevated.
The Guardian wrote cryptically that the news "further clouds his future." Twitter naturally went a bit further, producing plenty of incredulous reaction. A few standout tweets appear below:
This Rooney hamstring story seems sketchy. Why make him fly 24 hours with a dodgy hamstring when physios and doctors out there with him?— The Special John (@bainesyDiego10) July 11, 2013
@ManUtd *negotiate wages with Chelsea.— Football Babble (@FootballBabble_) July 11, 2013
Didn't know that not wanting to play for United hurt the hamstrings. #Rooney— Tom Kinslow (@TomKinslow) July 11, 2013
When I asked Moyes last week if Rooney had said he no longer wants to leave United, he said Rooney is "training fantastically"— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) July 11, 2013
So what are we to think? Is Rooney really injured? Or is this a ploy to save face ahead of a move to Chelsea?
Rooney, as you'll recall, submitted a transfer request in May, per Fox Sports. But as Harris' tweet above reminds us, Manchester United manager David Moyes spoke adamantly last week about Rooney remaining a United player.
"Wayne Rooney is not for sale," Moyes said, per BBC Sport. "He's a Manchester United player and will remain a Manchester United player. Wayne won't be sold by Manchester United."
On the other hand, the timing seems suspect. But that might merely be a product of all the speculation surrounding Rooney's future. As always, where transfers are concerned, it's best to tread lightly.
The best course, for now, is to take United at their word. Even if Rooney leaves the club this summer, it's entirely possible he simply suffered a hamstring injury and had to leave the preseason tour early.
Even so, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.