Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed on Oct. 19 what many fans have known for the past few weeks – that star striker Wayne Rooney wants to leave the team. But what Ferguson has said doesn’t equate into Rooney wanting to leave immediately. Ferguson basically came out and let the soccer world know Rooney doesn’t want to renew his contract when it runs out in June 2012.
It’s not really the shocking news that most media outlets in Britain are making it out to be. The British press, whose specialty is making mountains out of molehills, has made it sound like Rooney’s given the club and ultimatum and wants to leave on the next double-decker out of town.
There hasn’t been any specific reason given why the former Everton striker wants to hightail it out of Old Trafford, and he may not actually leave town anyway. It’s believed in many quarters that Rooney’s head has been turned by the ridiculous amount of money cross-town neighbors Manchester City is throwing at players these days.
City, which is the richest club in the world due to its Middle East ownership, has been buying up players left, right and center for the last year now as it tries to buy some silverware for its long-suffering fans. But the club is paying well above the market price for players who quite frankly aren’t worth it.
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City’s Yaya Toure is the highest paid player in the English Premier League (EPL) at about 4.1 million pounds a year. But that’s after taxes. While he’s making about 185,000 pounds a week at the moment that will rise to about 221,000 once England’s new tax law comes into effect in April, when taxes rise to 50 per cent. It’s been reported that Rooney turned down 150,000 pounds a week from United in the summer.
Rooney, who turns 25 years old on Oct. 24, will become a free agent when his contract runs out and he also has the option of buying out the last year of his deal for about the price of a year’s salary, which is estimated to be 5 million pounds before taxes. There’s no way United will let him walk for nothing, so the odds are he’ll be sold.
However, anything can happen between now and 2012 and United could possibly make Rooney an offer he can’t refuse of about 1 million pounds a month. But let’s not forget United is paying about 40 million pounds a year just in interest alone on the club’s debts, so money is tight. Rooney’s personal life has come in for a battering recently as he’s been accused of renting out hookers while his wife was pregnant with his child. He’s also been dropped by Coca Cola from some of its promotions.
Soccer magazine Four Four Two estimated Rooney’s worth fell by 12 million pounds over the last year because of his off-field troubles. But if Rooney is leaving because of money, it just strengthens the argument of introducing a salary cap to the EPL. City has basically sent the whole pay scale out of whack by overpaying its players and now everybody else wants to take advantage of it by asking for a raise or being sold to the club.
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The money exchanging hands is absolute nonsense and it points to owners and managers losing touch with reality. Cristiano Ronaldo was sold by United to Real Madrid the other year for about 80 million pounds, which is more than what many franchises are worth. Soccer needs to get a grip on transfer fees and contracts before the banks start calling in the debts and several teams collapse.
Bookmakers are already taking bets where Rooney will end up, with Manchester City being favored. United's next game is Oct. 20, a Champions league match against Bursaspor. 1st Line Sportsbook has the odds of a United win at 1/5, a Bursaspor victory at 13/1 and a draw at 5/1.