Manchester United bought Wayne Rooney at a crucial time in their history. After a return to title glory for the first time in 26 years United had been dominant for a decade before the new money of Chelsea rocked up in 2004 with all the impact of a really very large meteor.
If Wayne Rooney had burst onto the scene just one year later than he did Chelsea would surely have signed him, through pure weight of cash, and Manchester United may never have recovered – such has been the influence of Rooney.
10 years and a legendary manager later Manchester United find themselves in a similar position – omnipotence seriously challenged and an ingenious signing required to tip the balance back in United’s favour – a team that has steadfastly refused to be beaten by bigger budgets.
Whilst Rooney will continue to be a vital cog, he can’t be expected to do everything his sublime self, and the bristling Ross Barkley is surely the catalyst United require for another dawn. They desperately need an artist with true character and Barkley is that man. He’s more than a footballer. Like Rooney, Barkley is a force of nature. They may occupy different positions but they have the same rare ability to win games – even against the best.
Bitterness prevails when a bigger club swoops for a home grown star. But that’s the status quo. Barkley’s star shines too brilliantly not to be noticed from afar in a football climate where the cream always rises to the top.
Everton are on an upward trajectory but it’s not as steep as Barkley’s. Bids will surely follow.