The Liverpudlian teen who garnered a £25.6 million transfer fee in 2004 has since won eight major trophies and is now on the cusp of scoring his 200th goal for the club.
Statistics aside, Rooney has provided countless iconic moments for United fans, and the success of his career has put him in a class with the Bobby Charlton's, Eric Cantona's, and other legends who have donned a United shirt.
This being said, all good things must come to an end one way or another. The controversy that has been generated by Rooney's alleged interest in moving to another team has been and remains unnecessary, especially in the club's time of transition. The recent squabbling coupled with the fact that Rooney isn't imperative to the club's success anymore is why the club must cut ties with Wayne Rooney and maximize on his value.
When looking at who stood out during United's massively successful league campaign this past year, you don't think about the heroics of the man in the number 10 shirt, but rather those of the Dutch import wearing number 20. Robin Van Persie was a revelation for the club who's hearts were broken on the final day of the previous season. The striker blew all expectations out of the water by defending his Golden Boot with a whopping 26 goals and chipping in 15 assists, good enough for 3rd in the league.
Fans got the opportunity to witness a metaphorical changing of the guard at the Etihad in December. When Van Persie's free kick off the far post gave United the 3-2 win over City in stoppage time, it not only assured that Manchester would be red once again, but that there was a new sheriff in town at United. Up to this point, the image of United winning a Manchester Derby had been in Rooney's overhead kick from 2011, but RVP stepping up in a moment all the more precarious gave fans a new star to count on in crunch time. At this point in time, Robin Van Persie took the reins from Wayne Rooney as United's luminary.
Rumors of Rooney's distaste with the club have been in the news since the United's Champions league matchup with Real Madrid in March when the striker started the game on the bench. Although his performance up to that point had been more than satisfactory (he did after all finish the year with 16 goals and 13 assists in all competitions), Sir Alex Ferguson chose Danny Welbeck to partner up top with RVP instead of Wayne. Maybe it was because of the goal Welbeck notched in the first leg in Madrid, or maybe Fergie just didn't fancy playing Wazza. Whatever the reason was, the media immediately began to report of a falling out between the two.
The gossip that was occurring in the tabloids for the rest of the Premier League campaign detracted a bit from the glory of the club's final league title under their legendary manager. The retiring manager only threw gas on the fire after the season when he claimed the disgruntled striker had requested a transfer, one of which Wayne has repeatedly denied. Whoever was telling the truth remains a mystery, however by this point fans of the league had known for months that there was unrest in Rooney's camp. The transfer rumors have only persisted over the summer months, leading many to believe that an exit is imminent.
The argument can be made that Rooney is too valuable to let go, and that it would be foolish to let a player of his immense talent leave. No United fan in their right mind would ever deny the class that Rooney brings to the field whenever he steps foot on it. Wayne Rooney, however, would not be the first World Class player United let walk when the drama off the pitch hurt the way the club operated.
You may not be able to find a better example of this sort of divorce between club and player than the one that happened with David Beckham, ironically just as Wayne Rooney was set to join the Red Devils. Beckham's clashes with Sir Alex and the risk of letting his growing fame compromise his performance on the pitch led to him being sold to Real Madrid in 2004. After 10 successful years at the club, Fergie's Fledgling left Old Trafford for good in the prime of his career.
Many United supporters could also argue that the result of Rooney's last trasfer scare in 2010 made the tension of it worth enduring, as he's since helped the club to a Champions League Final appearance and two Premier League crowns. The circumstances of that time were different though. Wayne didn't have nearly the same amount of competition at the striker position then as he does now. Yes, Dimitar Berbatov took home the Golden Boot that season but 11 of his 20 goals game in 3 games and his lackluster demeanor never sat well with Sir Alex. This coupled with Javier Hernandez's youth made Wayne the undisputed 1st choice striker.
Since this time we've born witness to Robin Van Persie's greatness and seen Chicharito become a lethal substitute off the bench. Not only that but Danny Welbeck's performances for club and country indicate the United Youth product has a bright future at Old Trafford. These players' ability plus the promise of Shinji Kagawa being a trequartista of sorts leaves the club with a myriad of options up top. If Wayne Rooney were satisfied with being moved around the pitch in order to maximize the talents of players such as these then the sky would be the limit for Manchester United. We saw what miraculous things could happen with Wayne playing in the midfield last season. Sadly we've learned over the past 6 months that Wayne does not seem to be satisfied with these plans. If United were to cash out on his transfer value, the hit taken by the club on the field would be far from catastrophic.
Although Wayne Rooney has been the root of a good deal of controversy recently, you can't necessarily blame the player for his frustrations. To be left out of the starting XI for the match against Madrid at Old Trafford probably felt like a low blow to him, especially coming off a weekend where he did this to John Ruddy. Not only that, but having to first deny transfer rumors from your former manager, then hear your new one announce to the world you're essentially a second-option and that he won't let you become bigger than the club would make for quite the aggravating Summer. The prospect of greener pastures lying elsewhere is certainly real for Wayne Rooney, why shouldn't a player in the prime of his career be tempted to go find them?
Wayne Rooney has been invaluable to Manchester United ever since he first donned the uniform. United supporters have had the pleasure of watching the Everton youth grow into one of the club's greatest players in recent years ever. If Wayne Rooney were to stay put, and perform like the world knows he can, then this summer's shenanigans would too become a thing of the past. Yet if United were to sell Rooney on, they would be able to assure that there be no more drama between the player and club, all while fetching a hefty sum in the process. On top of all of this, the remaining attacking talent would be allowed more opportunity to step up and shine for the team. It would hurt United fans around the globe to see him leave, but the unfortunate truth at this point is that it would be best for the club's sake and his own sake if they were to part ways.