Wayne Rooney will return to Old Trafford tomorrow with his reputation somewhat diminished, but no less of a Manchester United icon.
The Everton star's off-field problems have been well-documented in recent weeks, and it's fair to say he's only at Goodison Park at all because he had gradually fallen out of Jose Mourinho's plans.
In his final season with the Red Devils, the former England captain started just 15 Premier League games, scoring five times.
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United have no shortage of goalscorers now, especially as Romelu Lukaku went the other way in a £75million deal at the same time as Rooney joined the Toffees.
There are obviously going to be comparisons between the two players, though Mourinho has discouraged them.
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“Wayne arrived much earlier than that [Lukaku was 24 when he signed for United]," the Special One said, per the Telegraph.
And explaining why the Belgian is unlikely to equal Rooney's incredible tally of 253 goals for the club - a record which saw him surpass the legendary Sir Bobby Charlton - Mourinho inadvertently poured cold water on Rooney's achievements.
“I think Wayne spent probably 10 years of his career in a different Premier League than you have now," he added.
Rooney had it easy
“A Premier League where it was easier to score goals, not just because of the difference between the top teams and others, but also because of the profile and the tactical interpretation of the competition.
“I think this Premier League is much more defensive minded, and much more difficult.”
The 31-year-old's manager was keen not to take too much away from his tally, explaining:
“I think sometimes, in this country, the word legend comes too easily. It is used too easily, but he deserves that title.
“He's a real legend of the club. The number of appearances, goals, trophies, clearly he's one of the most important players in the history of Manchester United. I think the stadium will show him the respect he deserves. I hope before the match and after - but not during it.”
All eyes at United are now on Lukaku, who has had a blistering start to life at the Theatre of Dreams.
The striker has hit five goals in his five games this season and even if he's unlikely to ever equal Rooney's heights, he's already on his way to making a massive impact.
What do you make of Mourinho's comments? Have your say in the comments.
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