Feb 21, 2014, 3:32 PM EDT
Reports of Manchester United’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Sure, it will be a struggle to even make this year’s Premier League top four.
But as David Moyes prepares this team for a charge back up the table next season – and let’s be honest, that has to be a big focus at this point – Wayne Rooney‘s autograph on that packet of paper is the most important piece to next year’s puzzle.
Rooney tweeted a picture of him and David Moyes at a round table with the signed contract in front of them, sealing the heavily-speculated extension, reported to be worth $500,000 and keeping the 28-year-old at Old Trafford until 2019.
With reports earlier in the season that a lack of Champions League qualification could see Rooney out the Manchester United door, his signature ensures that he will be around next season for the fight to return Manchester United to their rightful place.
“I’m happy everything is now finalized and I can carry on concentrating on my football,” Rooney said via his official website.
No kidding. With reports in the last 12 months all over the spectrum, including but not limited to the player requesting a transfer on numerous occasions, the media swirling is over…for now.
Our very own Joe Prince-Wright called Rooney the “heartbeat” of the Red Devils, and there isn’t a more accurate way to describe the Liverpool-born striker’s importance to the squad.
If Rooney had chosen to ride out his contract and depart, it would have qualified as a disaster for the club, requiring Moyes and company to essentially start from scratch. No matter your stance on giving Rooney the money he received, there is plenty of evidence to illustrate his vitality to the club.
“I know the direction that this club is going in,” Rooney said when asked about the effect the club’s Champions League status had on his decision.”If we don’t make it this season then we will come back stronger and claim a Champions League spot next season.”
He has nine goals and 11 assists this Premier League season – 11 and 19 across all competitions – and has carried the team with attacking stars like Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck injured at various points during the year.
Now, let speculation begin on the future of the Manchester United armband. With Nemanja Vidic departing at the end of the season, and Rooney sure to stick around, there will be plenty of calls for the 10-year Old Trafford veteran United’s next captain.
Before all that starts, United has completed one small step for this year’s chase, and one giant leap towards a future return to glory.
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