“Remember the name, Wayne Rooney”, is the immortalised commentary from Clive Tyldesley when the then Everton teenager bagged his first Premier League goal, a ripper against Arsenal, less than a week before his 17th birthday.
Rooney is still writing his own history of course, but the significance of what happened before the young Toffee had even ushered in his 19th birthday could, along with a predicted heat wave, give Tottenham fans some sleepless nights this summer.
The apple of Everton’s eye had only wowed the Goodison Park faithful for two full seasons before Manchester United made their move.
Without any regard for the boy-wonder’s swelling cult-hero status on Merseyside, Rooney was soon gone.
United’s own status as the leading light in English football and their ability to pay a vast sum for the teenager ensured Rooney was a Red Devil by summer’s end in 2004.
The comparisons with Harry Kane’s outstanding breakthrough campaign just gone are obvious and if rumours are to be believed, United are circling, ready to test Tottenham’s resolve over the London club’s own folk hero.
Lilywhites are bound to chortle at the notion of selling Kane, which isn’t in the least bit surprising.
However, even if it’s not this season, United’s track record of identifying young English talent, then using financial clout to land them, is frightening.
Besides Rooney as the most obvious example, the list is quite extensive. Leeds’ Alan Smith arrived in the same transfer window as England’s latest captain, while Aston Villa’s Ashley Young, Blackburn’s Phil Jones, Fulham’s Chris Smalling and latterly Southampton protege Luke Shaw, were all plucked from clubs further down the Premier League pecking order.
Tottenham may see themselves as bigger fish than the aforementioned clubs, but in the end Manchester United are Manchester United, the most successful team in English football and every player has their price.
Spurs will be sure to keep speculation at arm’s length wherever possible, but there could yet be a massive bid coming their way that requires serious attention.
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