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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Rooney to ManU

Wayne Rooney, despite injury in Euro 2004, set to join Man U

Rooney set for Man Utd move

Manchester United have informed the Stock Exchange they have reached an "outline agreement" to sign England striker Wayne Rooney from Everton.

The deal is likely to be in the region of £25m, and should be sealed once Rooney has completed a medical and hospital tests in Manchester.

But Everton are still pressing for the highest possible transfer fee.

"We have always said we are looking for the best available deal for the club," said Toffees spokesman Ian Ross.

The 18-year-old arrived at United's Carrington training complex in Manchester on Tuesday after Everton gave permission for them to proceed with medical check-ups.

England's Euro 2004 star has been sidelined since the tournament with the foot injury he sustained in the quarter-final defeat to Portugal.

Rooney's arrival is a clear indication the deal will be sealed before Tuesday's transfer deadline, though it is also obvious there are still a few outstanding issues to be resolved before it is completed.

Newcastle had also wanted Rooney, who handed in a transfer request at Goodison Park on Friday after rejecting a club-record contract offer from Everton.

At one stage, it seemed Rooney preferred St James' Park as a destination, but it is now clear his future lies at Old Trafford

Why all the fuss about an 18 year old?

Rooney worth the fight
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer

So what is it that makes Rooney so special, and worth the very public multi-million pound scramble?

And why was Ferguson so determined to win the battle?

Rooney's talent was whispered about in almost hushed tones when he emerged barely out of his teens at Everton.

He was quickly labelled as the finest youngster Everton had ever produced, and occasionally visiting reporters would be beckoned into the club's Bellefield training headquarters to watch a video of the prodigy's latest feat.

Even veteran former Everton manager and youth team coach Colin Harvey, never a man to deliver undeserved praise, could not contain his enthusiasm.

Rooney signed his first contract on the pitch at Goodison Park before he was even near a first team place - the club was that sure they had a budding genius on their hands.

Rooney made his debut as a 16-year-old on the opening day of the 2002/03 against Spurs - but burst on to the national consciousness on 19 October 2002.

He scored a now famous 25-yard winner in the last minute as Everton ended Arsenal's 30-match unbeaten run with a 2-1 victory.

Rooney then became England's youngest player and goalscorer, although his form was mixed last season in a struggling Everton side.

Indeed he went into Euro 2004 with question marks surrounding his weight and fitness - questions he answered so spectacularly that it effectively set the ground for the current bidding war.

The highest stage in European football held no terrors as he roughed up France hard man Lilian Thuram, then scored twice in wins against Switzerland and Croatia.

England was in the grip of "Roomania" - while Everton feared his feats were forcing him further away from the club he supported as a boy.


Manchester United felt they could wait until next summer before signing Rooney at a relatively knockdown price, but Newcastle's dramatic intervention forced their hand.

Ferguson simply felt he could not allow Rooney to move elsewhere, a testimony to his importance in the future Old Trafford strategy.

Now we will soon discover whether Sir Alex's move - and determination to empty Old Trafford's coffers - will be successful.

Why all the fuss? Because the last time a young player had talent like this, his name was Michael Owen. With Rooney, they have the chance to have the allure of David Beckham without the metrosexuality and famous wife. It's not just about his talent, which seems to be considerable, or the risk of his "lurid" personal life (he's 18, most lives at that age are pretty much not for family consumption, toss money on it....), but the fact that they can rebuild the franchise around him, the way that Beckham was the perfect partner for the marketing boom of ManU and the entire Premiership. Rooney may well be the player for a new era in not only the Premiership, but international soccer.

posted by Steve @ 8:51:00 AM

8:51:00 AM

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