Upon scoring a record 250th goal for Manchester United, it seemed Wayne Rooney’s position amongst the United elite had been cemented, with opportunities to extend, and ultimately conclude, his career with the side perhaps to follow. Yet, he recently returned to his former club Everton on a free transfer, paving the way for Romelu Lukaku to move in the opposite direction.Whilst the Lukaku deal may naturally therefore attain the majority of the focus, it seems more poignant to focus on Rooney’s decision to transfer to Everton itself as, in a period where a vast array of players seem to be prioritising monetary incentives in securing moves to China and America. Instead, he seems to have priortised plying his trade at the pinnacle, perhaps providing him with a pathway in which he may return to the national team setup, and ultimately surpass Peter Shilton’s appearance record.
Rooney originally joined the Everton ranks aged nine, advancing as his progression continued, eventually making his first team debut versus Tottenham. After attaining a maiden assist, and as he gained further experience at the top level, he seemed to adapt to the forward role further, scoring a brace in a cup victory versus Wrexham. Yet, perhaps his crowning glory occurred in a fixture with reigning Premier League champions Arsenal, where he seemed to successfully combine his individual capabilities with an ability to function as part of the team unit, proving the difference in a 2-1 win.These traits may have been the primary factor in Sir Alex Ferguson signing him for £27 million, a record for a teenager, and he ultimately attained over 25 trophies during his tenure at the club, suggesting how he managed to achieve longevity and remain consistent at the top level.
Whilst it seems clear he has already attained a vast array of records, whilst also expanding his trophy cabinet, securing a transfer to Everton may provide him with opportunities to both increase his footballing pedigree and cement his legacy further. At Manchester United, and at international level, he earned the title of record goal scorer, and he may be aiming for a similar status at Everton; in achieving success for a variety of different teams, he may lay the foundations for both his colleagues and youth players to replicate his feats. With Rooney also becoming Everton’s sixth summer signing, he may be the final piece in Koeman’s side achieving a first piece of silverware since 1995, whilst simultaneously elevating Everton’s league standing.
Everton therefore seem to have been superiorly impacted with the acquisition of the former England captain, yet this transfer seems to have also provided dividends for multiple parties. For United, his departure signalled the acquisition of Romelu Lukaku, enhancing the club’s quest for Champions League glory as they seem to have replaced Rooney with another established talisman. In addition, the £75 million price for the Belgian, whilst currently the largest value spent in this window, may be recouped via merchandise sales, providing beneficial outcomes for both fans and the club. The transfer may also signify productive outcomes for the national team, as with Gareth Southgate selecting players based on their playing time at club level, Rooney may now be able to re-enter the squad with increased opportunities at Everton, providing Southgate with a larger degree of squad depth and ultimately impacting England’s world cup bid.
Ultimately, Rooney’s decision to transfer to his boyhood club, whilst perhaps having other opportunities which may have provided differing, and perhaps superior, monetary incentives, may suggest he prioritises playing football in the Premier League and, with the necessity for players to make these decisions becoming increasingly essential as China edges closer to becoming a global superpower, this transfer may solely serve to elevate his legacy further. With Rooney’s former United teammates utilising social media to recognise his career thus far, and with Everton manager Ronald Koeman reiterating his desire to sign the Englishman, this suggestion seems to have been emphasised. As such, whilst achieving at Everton may enable Rooney to accomplish his overarching career goal; his place amongst England’s elite seems to have already been cemented.
How may Rooney utilise this transfer in order to ensure he returns to the England squad?