While a lucrative move to the Chinese Super League or a return to boyhood club Everton are still the most likely destinations for Wayne Rooney, Stoke City have entered the market as 8/1 shots to sign the Manchester United star.
And there’s plenty of reason to think the 31-year-old would be the ideal fit for the Potters, and vice versa. That’s because…
Stoke’s game doesn’t rely on pace
Not many sides had a 36-year-old as their top scorer during 2016-17, but that’s exactly what happened for the Potters, with Peter Crouch enjoying an Indian Summer as he banged in 10 goals in 29 games.
Part of that is simply an impressive resurgence from the beanpole striker, but Stoke’s patient game and aerial threat means their style would be ideal for a player like Rooney.
The 31-year-old’s reading of the game remains extremely sharp, and he remains a danger on set pieces and in the air. However, Rooney has looked out of place in a United side where the attacking emphasis is on quick passing moves and the pace of players like Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial.
Rooney still has a lot to give…provided he’s at a club like Stoke who’d suit his playing style. And as for the Staffordshire outfit…
Potters lack a man for the big occasion
Mark Hughes’ men had a good record against the sides around them during 2016-17, but were let down by dismal form against the Premier League’s heavyweights, taking a single point from 10 meetings with the league’s top five clubs.
In short, they lack a player who can make an impact in big games and real quality up front.
While Crouch undoubtedly had a good campaign, his 10 goals in all competitions shouldn’t have made him their top scorer. But he managed that feat with little trouble, in a side with Saido Berahino (no goals in 13 games), departed loanee Wilfried Bony and the hard-working but limited Mame Biram Diouf.
As for Rooney, even with his powers having faded somewhat, he’s always a man to rise to the occasion. The United legend has netted in a Champions League Final, two League Cup Finals, and scored 11 times in the Manchester derby.
He’s also a man who can step up and dig his side out of a hole in a tough situation. Potters fans experienced that fact last season, as the Liverpudlian struck a spectacular 94th-minute equaliser to grab United an equaliser in Staffordshire.
Game-time + Prem football is the ideal combo
While a move to the Chinese Super League would likely give the former Everton man a bigger salary, he still has plenty more to give in one of the world’s top leagues – and at Stoke, he’d be likely to get that opportunity.
As for Everton, while a return home might appear to ‘Wazza’’s sentimental side, there’d be no guarantee of a starting spot either in midfield or attack.
Not only do the Toffes have a talent-packed squad, boss Ronald Koeman is increasingly adopting a youth-first policy, with the likes of Ademola Lookman, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Tom Davies gradually emerging as first-choice players.
There’d be significantly less competition for a firm spot in the Potters’ side, with Rooney a cut above the solid-but-unspectacular regulars this term like Glenn Whelan, Charlie Adam and Jonathan Walters.
What do Stoke fans think?
Would you like to see Rooney at your club, or do you think the cash would be better spent elsewhere?
Let us know in the comments section below!
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing