Wayne Rooney agrees MLS move “in principle”

AP
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It appears that Wayne Rooney is edging closer to a move to Major League Soccer this summer.

Rooney, 32, is said to have “agreed a deal in principle” to join D.C. United this July but the English striker is said to be waiting around at Goodison to see if Sam Allardyce remains in charge of the Toffees.

Various reports claim the transfer deal is worth close to $17 million for Rooney and he will have a contract with MLS until the end of the 2020 season.

A source confirmed to Pro Soccer Talk that Rooney’s move to MLS is a “done deal” and it would certainly be a rapid change of heart which sees the Manchester United and England legend leave his second stint at Everton for life in MLS after less than one year back on Merseyside at his boyhood club.

With the manager who hired him, Ronald Koeman, fired within a few months, Rooney’s return to Everton hasn’t been a happy one (despite 10 goals in 31 PL appearances this season) as he’s shown his frustration at being subbed off in recent weeks, especially at Allardyce after the derby draw with Liverpool last month.

Would Rooney’s move to MLS be a success?

There’s no doubting his pedigree as the all-time leading goalscorer for Man United and England has won everything he can in the game, but joining MLS is a different prospect and it really is 50/50.

Look at Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard. Kaka and Andrea Pirlo arriving in MLS over the past few years. All four struggled to adapt to the different challenges MLS throws your way, but the likes of Robbie Keane, David Villa and Thierry Henry have certainly faired better as big-name Designated Players.

Yet brining Rooney to MLS does somewhat clash with the new model of recruitment for most clubs as. 111 newcomers arrived in MLS in 2018 with those new players having an average age of 25 as the likes of Barco arriving at Atlanta reinforced a shift in signing younger players to the league.

Focusing back on Rooney, he has dropped deeper under Allardyce (and spent plenty of time on the bench) at Everton and has been playing in midfield for the last few months, so he could perhaps adopt a role as a true no.10 in D.C. United’s lineup if he does make the move Stateside.

With a little more time on the ball and a slower pace to the game, overall, Rooney should thrive, in theory, in MLS. But we all know it’s about much more than talent to do well in North America’s top-flight. A player who has spent his entire 17-year career in the Premier League will need to adapt quickly to turf pitches, plenty of long travel days, high temperatures and also try to reinvent his game.

The latter is something Rooney has been able to do over the years as he’s gone from an energetic teen to a polished goalscorer and now a deeper playmaker. His penchant for scoring spectacular goals will also hold him in good stead if he arrives in MLS.

With D.C. United moving into their long-awaited soccer specific stadium at Audi Field this July, having Rooney on board when the MLS transfer window opens in July would surely be perfect timing for them to make a splash.

Many will argue as to whether or not MLS needs Rooney as it tries to shed its tag as a place where stars go to retire and have a few more years of earning big bucks, but just look at the wider impact Zlatan Ibrahimovic has had since he arrived at the LA Galaxy.

Rooney hasn’t quite got Zlatan’s charisma off the pitch (understatement alert) but there’s no doubt he still has plenty to give on it, especially for a team struggling at the foot of the Eastern Conference early on in the 2018 season under Ben Olsen.

This move seems like a win-win for everyone.