“What next for Wayne Rooney” is a running story, now catapulted to the top of the page as the dropped English striker sees his former club on the verge of selling striker Romelu Lukaku to his current club.
It’s not impossible to see Rooney remaining at Manchester United as the club moves back into the UEFA Champions League, nor is it improbable that Everton resist the lure of bringing a homegrown hero back to Goodison Park ahead of a European campaign of its own.
There’s no question Rooney isn’t the same player who was the England Player of the Year in 2014 and 2015, but is he as worn down as his resume suggests? Rooney has played 636 club matches to go with 119 England caps since 2003.
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The BBC claims that a return to Everton could be “finalized by the weekend,” putting an end to more than a decade at Old Trafford.
Rooney is 62 goals shy of Alan Shearer’s record, and just two from becoming the second player to score 200 goals in Premier League history. To do that in an Everton shirt is something the Toffees would love to see, and the boon of selling Rooney shirts (again) is an obvious benefit.
Rooney posted five goals and five assists in league play, and he wasn’t in United’s Top Ten in terms of performance rating by advanced stats site Who Scored. He was United’s 19th best performing player according to another site, Squawka, per 90 minutes.
It’s not all about the goal numbers for Rooney, who has only scored more than 15 PL goals in a season four times in his celebrated career. But his eight total goals in all competitions last year coupled with his removal from the England set-up is a major question mark for any club.
The question isn’t about Rooney’s temperament, or even his best position. The question is whether a name like Wayne Rooney can exist on a club as a non-focal point. And that’s a risk that Everton, or any club aiming high, has to weigh carefully ahead of any move. To work with a lyric from one of his favorite bands, Rooney has more than enough PL education to perform. Can his body meet his brain on the pitch?