You’ve got to feel for Wayne Rooney right now.
The 31-year-old can barely get a game for club and country despite being the captain and record goal scorer for both. It seems that in spite of his legacy, the man himself is struggling to put the brakes on his ever-accelerating stagnation.
That being said, many thought the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic would serve to reinvigorate Rooney and his career at Old Trafford.
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A nice thought but just a thought. The Swede in fact served to reiterate his captain’s decline with a phenomenal season that has seen Manchester United fans deflated at the sight of his consequential release.
Rooney was limited to 15 Premier League starts last season and eight goals in all competitions. The last time he failed to reach double figures in a campaign saw Arsenal win the title without a single defeat.
By contrast, Ibrahimovic romped his way to 28 strikes and eight assists.
And, naturally, he scored the winning goals in two of the three climaxes to United’s unique outlook on the ‘treble’. Only injury prevented him from being let loose against Ajax in May.
That’s not to suggest the 35-year-old actively outshined Rooney but rather represented a gaping disparity in the United attack as opposed to a flourishing partnership.
One man who couldn’t agree more is Kim Kallstrom. The midfielder played alongside Ibrahimovic in the Swedish national team and sampled Premier League football in a fleeting spell with Arsenal.
Speaking to Café.se, he had the following to say: “It is clear, he [Ibrahimovic] is a huge star, He can go to Manchester United as a 34 or 35-year-old and instantly become the central figure.
“No disrespect to Wayne Rooney, he is their record goalscorer, but he turned into a parenthesis when Ibrahimovic arrived.”
Nevertheless, there is a scary amount of truth behind Kallstrom’s statement and it only serves to fuel rumours of a Rooney exit. After all, the 31-year-old is linked with boyhood club Everton and perhaps even a China switch.
Jose Mourinho is renounced for his ruthless transfer policy and, as a result, it seems likely that Rooney will bear forfeit for a mediocre campaign.
That being said, it would see the Englishman follow the same path as Ibrahimovic who suffered the unlikely, albeit circumstantial, fate of being released by the club.
Although mitigated by long-term injury, the situation shows that the Ibrahimovic-Rooney relationship to which Kallstrom referred has backfired for them both. Rooney’s fall from favour however, was of his own design.
What is for sure is that the United skipper needs to change something or face further ignominy at Old Trafford. It can only be hoped that his historic achievements provide sufficient sanctuary ahead of a seemingly impending exit.
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