Wayne Rooney: Can Manchester United Really Say No To Real Madrid?

nigel smithCorrespondent IMarch 15, 2010

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 14: Wayne Rooney of Manchester United applauds the fans after the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Fulham at Old Trafford on March 14, 2010 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Continued media chatter regarding Real Madrid's desire for Wayne Rooney is guaranteed to burst the bubble of optimism generated by United’s quest for titles at home and abroad.

The Spanish club’s mischievous  ex-president Ramon Calderón fuelled a summer of speculation by airing his view that Real Madrid are "obsessed" with bringing the United hitman to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Calderon said: "It seems that it's an obsession for the president to go for Rooney. I imagine Manchester United wouldn't like to lose a player like him.

"Sometimes it's a point of money and if there is a proposal maybe there will be a deal. You have to take into account that the most important thing is what a player wants to do. Ronaldo was a good signing. He is one of the best. He is a professional, a real professional and he is doing a really good job.

"I don't know if it is possible to spend again another 100 or 80 million more euros. I imagine in that case you [Manchester United] would have to sell."

Should Calderón be taken at his word?

The Rooney to Real story could be no more than kite-flying when spread by Calderón, embittered by his relative lack of success at Madrid and humiliated by the manner in which he was dumped as president.

Certainly, he is not known to have close links to his successor Florentino Pérez and would not be privy to the club’s transfer plans.

Yet by floating the rumour, Calderon sets himself up for a win-win outcome. His rush to brief the media so early in the transfer cycle could be interpreted as an attempt to provoke ennui should the deal come to fruition.

Equally, if Real fail to sign Rooney, no one would be more delighted than Calderon to point to Pérez’ failure to secure his number one transfer target. Nothing is more damaging to the reputation of a Madrid president than the unchallenged accusation that he cannot get his man. Calderon knows this truth better than most.

Whatever Calderón’s motives may be, the transfer saga is likely to remain a back page fixture.

Rooney's agent, now negotiating a new contract with United, can only be rubbing his hands with glee at his charge's form and the apparent interest from a glamorous rival.

Real Madrid and its umbilical media machine should find few negatives in keeping the Rooney pot-boiler going.

The same cannot be said for United, a club now impaled on the horns of a terrible dilemma.

Rooney is the heartbeat of United once again. He is the player who stirs the fans' blood. His goals carry the team's hopes. Without him, the Red Sky would darken.

Yet United have shown a repeated ability to bounce back from the loss of a champion. Bryan Robson gave way to Roy Keane. A historic Treble was clinched two seasons after the talisman Eric Cantona called time on his United career. The golden generation of 1992 has come and gone and United have kept on winning.

Such logic leaves United fans biting their fingertips, worried that the Glazer family may look at the numbers involved in signing the striker to a new United contract, take leave of its senses and sanction the Rooney transfer.

United’s immediate finances look better following last month’s successful debt-relief operation.

However, the football truism that every player has his price applies to Rooney just as it did to his former team mate Cristiano Ronaldo.

United remain convinced that the £80 million world record-breaking fee that took Ronaldo from United to Madrid was business too good to turn down.

What all fans must fear is that United may see Rooney as a saleable asset too. The Glazers might be sorely tempted to cash in on Madrid’s perceived weakness up front, to shore up the club’s short term financial stability.

What the media is only too willing to accept from the likes of Calderon and others is that Madrid may have an itch that only Rooney can scratch.

Perhaps this is true, but there is an alternative view which is equally compelling. Real Madrid may be happy to be linked with a possible move for Rooney whilst quietly, behind the scenes, the club ties-up a deal for Valencia’s great Spanish forward David Silva.


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