Jose Mourinho is planning an overhaul of his under-performing Manchester United squad, with Wayne Rooney posing as the highest-profile potential departure, reports ESPN FC’s Miguel Delaney.
Rooney has fallen out of favour under the embattled Portuguese, and could be sacrificed during the manager’s hunt for a right-back – a move that may happen as soon as the January transfer window. The 31-year-old forward’s want for first-team football could hasten his exit.
Ridding the wage bill of Wayne Rooney’s earnings – believed to be in the region of £350,000 per week after image rights – plus the transfer fee received in his sale would significantly boost United’s transfer kitty.
Mourinho’s want to strengthen the right-back spot is well documented – with AS Monaco’s Fabinho and Everton’s Seamus Coleman identified – but he would prefer a like-for-like change by bringing in Antoine Griezmann as Rooney’s replacement.
The Atletico Madrid striker, 25, added the 2015-16 La Liga Player of the Year award to his growing personal collection of silverware on Monday, and was also top scorer at Euro 2016 with six goals – a solo tally unmatched by any player in the tournament since fellow Frenchman Michel Platini bagged nine in 1984.
Griezmann would certainly freshen up a strikeforce which, despite Rooney’s dropping, has still appeared lacklustre following Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s recent downturn in form and the struggles of Anthony Martial since the campaign kicked off. Summer signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s exclusion, meanwhile, is met with puzzlement from the Old Trafford faithful.
Completing a transfer for Griezmann at the mid-term point would be unlikely, though, leaving United to revive its interest in him at the end of the season.
To remain in a similar pay bracket, Rooney would have to draw the attentions of the higher-spending clubs in Europe, make a shift to the cash-rich Chinese Super League, or become a designated player in Major League Soccer. Both of those divisions start in the spring, offering Rooney a full preseason with a prospective new employer.
The wholesale changes to Mourinho’s squad may not be just in the strikeforce and at right-back, with the former Chelsea boss believed to be unimpressed with left-back Luke Shaw, hence the recent preference of Daley Blind in that role. The United hierarchy, however, is unlikely to sanction a sale of the England international who was purchased for £30 million from Southampton in 2014.
Regardless of the possible high spend in the winter following a summer which saw around €185 million (£164.6 million) splurged on new players, United’s on-pitch efforts need to quickly yield better results after Sunday’s harrowing 4-0 loss at Chelsea.
The Red Devils’ bitter local rival Manchester City lies in wait in Wednesday’s League Cup tilt.