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Arsenal joins Wayne Rooney chase; Manchester United fans have to love this

Jul 17, 2013, 11:22 PM EDT

Britain Soccer Premier League AP

In the four years since Cristiano Ronaldo left for Real Madrid, Manchester United have played out a Wayne Rooney era that needs to end, be that with his move to another club or the player accepting a new role within the team. While at one time Rooney was talismanic, now only the most loyal of  fans would see the 27-year-old as needed, let alone wanted. On huge wages that only add to his mounting baggage, it’s a bit perplexing that any top club wants to add him to their payroll, let alone pay a $30 million fee to the privilege.

But that’s what Chelsea are rumored to have offered to Manchester United for the want-away striker, a bid that was reported rejected by the Red Devils. Provided technical director Michael Emenalo doesn’t up the ante, Blues fan should see United’s decision as a $150 million bullet dodged. Between transfer fees and wages Rooney would garner should a club sign him a to five-year deal at his Manchester salary, that huge bill would accompany the England international to his new home.

Despite Rooney scoring 100 times (all competitions) in 164 games since Ronaldo left Manchester, that’s crazy money to throw at a player who turns 28 in October – a forward that scored only 16 times last season. But what’s even crazier is that Chelsea may not be the only bidder. According to reports out of England late Wednesday, Arsenal is ready to compete with their London rivals for Rooney’s signature.

Given Rooney’s wages, the chances of him moving to Arsenal having to be long, but if Arsène Wenger suddenly decides players making almost double what he might pay Gonzalo Higuaín would be acceptable, the move would be worse for the Gunners than the the Blues. Rooney is just not a player any team should be committing $150 million to right now, let alone a team that’s unlikely to compete for a title.

Regardless, Manchester United fans have to love this. Not only does it seem a player who has become a problem might be sold (though the team insists he’s still not for sale), but the Red Devils could make a major dent in a rival’s finances if they sell in league, using the generous fee somebody’s willing to pay to invest that in a capable, less expensive replacement.

In a more rational world, Manchester United would be stuck with their egregious mistake, but in the decidedly irrational world of club soccer, their error might pay off.

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