Wayne Rooney Moves Within Range of Lionel Messi on Football's Top Earners List

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistMarch 18, 2014

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney during the English Premier League soccer match between West Bromwich Albion and Manchester United at The Hawthorns Stadium in West Bromwich, England, Saturday, March 8, 2014.  (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Rui Vieira/Associated Press

Wayne Rooney's new £300,000-a-week contract has made him the fourth-highest earner in world football, putting the Manchester United striker almost on a par with the sport's top superstar names.

That's according to France Football magazine (h/t ESPN FC's Ian Holyman), which writes that the La Liga trio of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar are the only players currently raking in more than Rooney.

Richard Jolly of ESPN FC confirmed in late February that Rooney had ended any speculation of a supposed Old Trafford departure, putting pen to paper on the five-year extension.

However, since the news emerged, there has been some debate as to whether the new agreement shows good value on the Red Devils' part.

The Sunday Times' Jonathan Northcroft has said that money and length of his new deal was always a priority for Rooney, with the future of the club coming in as a secondary thought:

Defending United's case for offering such money, though, Sporting Intelligence suggests on Twitter that the club had no superior options in front of them:

Over the course of the five years stipulated, Rooney's wages will, in theory, cost Manchester United more than £78,000,000, were he to remain at the club until the summer of 2019, at which point he would then become a free agent.

Were one to correlate wages with on-the-pitch talent, the numbers and figures discussed would suggest that Rooney is still among an extremely elite hierarchy of individuals, regardless of how his club may have slumped since David Moyes took the helm.

According to his official Manchester United profile, Rooney has scored 210 goals for the club. That sum is just one shy of United's third-highest all-time scorer Jack Rowley's record and 39 short of Bobby Charlton's 249-goal total.

This season, the former Everton starlet—now in his 10th campaign as a Red Devil—has netted 11 Premier League goals, per Transfermarkt, tied with Robin van Persie as the team's leading scorer in the competition. 

Rui Vieira/Associated Press

That being said, one might well argue that it's not the kind of fortune-altering form that the likes of Messi, Ronaldo or Neymar inject into their respective outfits, or even those stars on lesser sums, such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Paris Saint-Germain.

However, times are hard at the Theatre of Dreams, and the club evidently feel that such an outlay is needed right now if the club are to bounce back from their ongoing dip in form.