With Jose Mourinho keen on giving Manchester United the very best – case in point: Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan – it becomes arguable as to where Rooney will find himself in the new squad.
There is no need to illustrate further on how Ibrahimovic is the ideal number 9 as he has already proven it multiple times. Interestingly, Anthony Martial’s suitability was also displayed last season and with the emergence of Marcus Rashford, Rooney’s importance in the team looks considerably weak.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s arrival at Old Trafford could also spell trouble for Rooney. He is a more dynamic, quick and creative footballer who can operate across the front and is a natural playmaker. Mkhitaryan has flourished at Borussia Dortmund, switching between left and right. His versatility is probably one of his biggest advantages, at this point. Captain of the Armenian team, he generally operates in a central role for his country.
Mourinho has made it known that he wasn’t a fan of the fact that Louis van Gaal had deployed the 30-year-old as a deep-lying midfielder, a move followed through by Roy Hodgson in England’s miserable Euro 2016 campaign.
It’s one thing to have good passing skills, but it’s another thing to employ those skills even in the most demanding of situations. Basically, Rooney appears to crack under pressure, off-late.
Its not far until United travel to Bournemouth on 14 August for their season opener, and Rooney whether Rooney plays as the number 10, Ibrahimovic the number 9 and Mkhitaryan on the right, with Martial on the left, remains to be seen.
The question of the captain also comes into play, as Rooney’s armband could also be up for grabs. He will continue to wear the armband but if the situation ever comes where he no longer can be played by the team, then the captaincy will obviously be an issue again.
The arrivals of the Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan also will mean that a bulk of players – Jesse Lingard, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, Ashley Young, Adnan Januzaj, Andreas Pereira and James Wilson – will need to seriously focus and pull up their socks.
The only option for Januzaj, Wilson, Pereira, Herrera, Depay and Mata based on last season performances will be to either leave or fade from the first-team picture, unless proved otherwise. Young, Lingard and Rashford will look to be alternatives to Martial, Mkhitaryan and Ibrahimovic.
Mourinho has also signed Eric Bailly, so the centre-back and Marcos Rojo are expected to substitute for Chris Smalling and Phil Jones.
The impending arrival of Paul Pogba could also mean that Rooney is not required in midfield. If the 23-year-old does arrive, he will be the first choice by default. He would partner either Michael Carrick, after Mourinho handed the midfielder a fresh one-year deal, or Bastian Schweinsteiger, who impressed for Germany at Euro 2016. Morgan Schneiderlin appears to be a reserve, at best.
Finally, the defence would consist of Matteo Darmian, Smalling, Jones and Luke Shaw, with David de Gea in goal. Daley Blind can operate at both centre-back and left-back, but if Mourinho preferred it, Blind can also join Schneiderlin as central midfield competition. Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, who played 14 times last year in his debut season, is Shaw’s substitute. Shaw is all set to make his comeback after a broken leg.
There, Mourinho, the third United manager in four seasons, will embark on a mission to restore Manchester United’s former glory and more.