It seems the Rooney saga is going to rumble on all summer long as Mourinho confirmed that Chelsea will be back with a third bid for the Manchester United striker and would pursue their man up until the last day of the transfer window. Whilst David Moyes, and everyone involved within Old Trafford, have remained heroically stoical defending one of prized assets, Mourinho’s persistence over the matter is daunting. If it eventuates that Manchester United are merely delaying the inevitable and Wayne Rooney is finally grappled out of Moyes’s exasperatedly tight clutches, here are some suggested players that could provide some retail therapy to ease the Scot’s suffering.
Juan Mata, 25, Chelsea
A skilful attacking midfielder, the classy Spaniard has excelled at every club he’s featured for. Learning his trade at Real Madrid’s youth academy, Mata signed for Valencia in 2007 and, after his inaugural season, claimed the accolade of Best Young Player. His performances at the Mestalla continued to win over fans, pundits and teams from around the world including Chelsea, who snapped him up in 2011. Since then Mata has become invaluable to the Londoners, not only making goals but chipping in with some sensational strikes himself.
Suitability: 8/10 Although Mata could arguably play himself into any team’s starting XI, his arrival may cause some selection headaches for David Moyes. Not only will the Scot have to decide where, and in what formation, Mata can prove most effective, but which player will have to give up their starting role for him.
Cost: Chelsea laid out a cool £23.5m to land the Spanish playmaker back in 2011 so, unless the deal includes Rooney going the other way, Moyes may well have to loosen his purse strings if he wants to see Mata pull on a red jersey this season.
Strengths: Mata’s vision is what sets him apart from his Chelsea counterparts. Whilst others may be quicker and trickier, Mata’s ability to find pockets of space then deliver a killer pass to a teammate or create a half chance for himself is sublime.
Likelihood? 7/10 Before Mourinho’s arrival at the Stamford Bridge Mata’s place at Chelsea never looked under threat. However, with Van Ginkel and Schurlle arriving and Willian set to follow, Mourinho may view Mata as merely bait to lure in his most sought after catch.
Julian Draxler, 19, Schalke 04
Draxler is another attacking midfielder that could tempt David Moyes in the transfer market should Rooney head to the capital. Even at such a young age, the German international has already become a permanent fixture in Schalke’s starting XI, making 109 appearances for the German outfit in just three seasons. His keen eye for goal and superb technical ability have earned him the chance to represent the German national team, featuring six times and even finding the net against the United States.
Suitability: 7/10 United fans may argue that they already have a perfectly good attacking midfielder in Shinji Kagawa. However, Draxler’s versatility to play out on the left or be trained to play as a box to box midfielder could appeal to Moyes.
Cost: At such a young age and having already risen to prominence appearing for Germany, Draxler’s price may have inflated. However, it seems that Schalke wouldn’t sniff at an offer in the region of £18m or over.
Strengths: Draxler has an experienced and mature understanding of the game, in spite of his tender age. Any club that lands his signature will surely be earmarking him as a future captain, dominating and dictating the midfield in any game he features in.
Likelihood? 6/10 After interest began to mount in the rising star from local Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund, Schalke wasted no time extending his contract until the summer of 2018. Whilst Schalke would be horrified at the thought of selling him to a local rival, they may be more inclined to offload him abroad for the right price.
Leandro Damiao, 24, Internacional
While Rooney was left angered and confused by the suggestion he was only needed as cover for Robin Van Persie, that role may satisfy the goalscoring Brazilian Damiao. His record of 83 goals in all competitions for Internacional, as well as becoming the leading goalscorer at the London Olympics, could be enough to entice Moyes to bring him to Old Trafford.
Suitability: 8/10 Old Trafford will always take a goalscorer into their heart. Someone with flair, tricks and confidence who can set the game alight. Damiao possesses all these qualities and more. Damiao would be best utilised as an impact player along with Javier Hernandez, taking the game to opponents if ever Van Persie fails to deliver.
Cost: As we all know, goalscorers don’t come cheap. Southampton have been linked with an £18m move for the Brazilian while Zenit St Petersburg are rumoured to be offering £21.5m. Whether Ed Woodward has the tenacity to negotiate this figure downwards remains to be seen.
Strengths: Like all good goalscorers, Damiao isn’t afraid to try his luck. Regardless of the opposition, he possesses the confidence, composure and talent to test the goalkeeper. What will really impress Moyes is that he is a prolific scorer from headed attempts. Perfect for a Manchester United team who love to play out wide and whip crosses in.
Likelihood? 8/10 With the player’s agent, Vinicus Prates, already confirming that the player could have moved to Napoli this summer, it seems that Damiao may already have his head turned. With Tottenham, Southampton and Roma all interested, Internacional look resigned to losing him sooner or later. A bid from Old Trafford could see him featuring alongside RVP before too long.
Ioannis Fetfatzidas, 22, Olympiacos
With Giggs taking on a player-coach role at United, Nani struggling to prove his consistency and Ashley Young forever on the treatment table, Fetfatzidas may be an ideal acquisition for Moyes. Fetfatzidas, or ‘Fetfa’, is a small but tricky left winger, providing Moyes with a different option to Valencia’s power and strength. Described by many in Greece as the ‘Greek Messi’, Fetfa possesses sublime dribbling skills and a burst of pace quick enough to leave full backs terrified.
Suitability 6/10 Fetfa could easily slot into Manchester United’s talented squad, but questions would be asked about his capability to cope with the physical nature of the Premier League. His slight stature would make him an easy target for defenders to bully out of games but, if he’s quick enough, they’ll have to catch him first.
Cost: Fetfa is still an unproven talent, yet to gain the attention and coverage that would inflate a player’s value, so a bid of around £5-£10m may tempt Olympiacos to part ways with the starlet.
Strengths: With the tagline; ‘Greek Messi’ you must be doing something right on the pitch. Like Messi, Fetfa is small in physique and has a low centre of gravity which he uses with great aplomb. Though there’s work to be done with his finishing; his vision, pace and ability to make chances is impressive.
Likelihood? 5/10 Although a great prospect, Moyes may be looking to put his trust in a more experienced player if he does lose such a key character in Rooney. Olympiacos may keep hold of him this summer but he is already looking like a player that would fit in nicely at Old Trafford.
Mesut Ozil, 24, Real Madrid
A truly world class talent and an expert in unlocking defences and helping his teammates grab the goals, Mesut Ozil could be the perfect replacement for Wayne Rooney. Since Rooney arrived at Manchester United, he has been pushed further and further back into midfield by Sir Alex Ferguson in an attempt to convert him into the creative spark of the team. Mesut Ozil has played this role better than most his entire career, using his finesse, improvisation and impeccable vision to lay on 13 assists last season in La Liga and 17 the season before.
Suitability: 9/10 Ozil has all the capabilities to become one of United’s best number 10s. Rooney’s departure will clearly free up a lot of money for the club but also a position just behind Robin Van Persie. His two assists on Sunday against Swansea were the perfect example of Rooney’s role in the team. It would take an exceptionally exciting and gifted player to play in that central role and supply Van Persie with expert balls as well as Rooney can. Ozil is definitely one of those players.
Cost: Real Madrid look to be wanting around £38m for the German international, after moving for £16.6m the season before that. A little pricey? Perhaps. But, if Real do actually pay £92m for Bale later this week then they will need to recoup some of that transfer fee.
Strengths: Ozil boasts magnificent control and has a frighteningly powerful shot from distance. However, his ability to penetrate the tightest of defences with his vision and creativity make him so sought after.
Likelihood: 7/10. Ozil’s price tag and the injury recently sustained by Xabi Alonso creates an element of uncertainty over whether this transfer could be pushed through. On pure skill and talent alone though, Old Trafford could provide the perfect stage for Ozil to shine on, should Bale steal the limelight at the Bernabeu.