Manchester United don't sell to Premier League rivals and never will
The news of Chelsea’s bid for Manchester United’s star striker Wayne Rooney has set the football world a flutter. Via a frankly ridiculous rumour that Chelsea had offered United Juan Mata AND £10m for Rooney which was then inexplicably turned down we eventually got to the truth; Chelsea offered £20m for Rooney and were turned down before the fax had finished printing off.
Man United have made intimations that Rooney is not available and that is an understandable stance. They don’t want to be left short handed if van Persie were to be injured. However, this ‘not for sale’ tag may apply only to English clubs, specifically Chelsea and to a lesser extent Arsenal, when looking at Man United’s transfer market history.
During Sir Alex Ferguson’s long and illustrious reign at the club Man United regularly bought players from other English clubs themselves but never sold their own star men in England. The biggest name sales from Old Trafford over the last twenty years; Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Jaap Stam, Paul Ince and Roy Keane all left the club to play for teams outside of the Premier League. This is for good reason.
United fans will be all too aware of what poaching players from other English clubs can get them. The likes of Eric Cantona, Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Roy Keane, Edwin van der Sar, Rio Ferdinand and most fresh in the memory, Robin van Persie, were all signed from other Premier League clubs and all became key men in Premier League and Champions League winning teams.
On the other hand, looking at the exits, they have never strengthened their rivals by giving them key players. Players such as Juan Sebastian Veron, Andrei Kanchelskis, Lee Sharpe and Nicky Butt were sold to other top Premier League clubs, but only once they had become surplus to requirements. The star men have only ever headed overseas.
Ronaldo, Beckham and van Nistelrooy were all sold to Real Madrid, Jaap Stam to Lazio, Ince to Inter Milan and Keane to Celtic. By selling their star men overseas it lessens the controversy and the pressure and it means that the only way that United can be damaged on the field is in a Champions League encounter, rather than a player causing them problems 38 games a season, because that is what selling domestically means, particularly to a title rival. All those players went on to be successful at their new clubs but none of them ever did damage to Man United. That is the ideal situation.
This is what makes a sale of Wayne Rooney to Chelsea so unlikely. There is no doubt that a Manchester United and Chelsea battle for the title is on the cards this season, and probably for many years to come. The one thing a very powerful looking Chelsea team lacked last season was a clinical goalscorer. Torres did a decent job and they have the precociously talented Romelu Lukaku but selling Chelsea Rooney would be very dangerous. In his career best seasons at Old Trafford he has shown that he is a man capable of scoring 25 or even 30 goals. If he scores Chelsea 30 goals they can win the Premier League. His success at Chelsea would directly and very negatively impact Manchester United.
If they are to sell Rooney, and that is by no means a guarantee given the club’s strong words, they can only possibly consider selling him overseas. Real Madrid or PSG could be interested and would have the kind of money at hand to both buy and maintain Rooney. Selling to one of these clubs is fairly easy for United to justify. They can say that he wasn’t happy and they have, after all, lost him to other strong European clubs. But whatever he does there could only affect them if they meet in the Champions League.
Selling to other English clubs also makes the club involved look weak, and in England, no other club has the strength of prestige as Man United. Selling a star man to another team in the league is written of as ‘an Arsenal thing to do’. A reputation the Gunners have gained over the last few years and that has seen them slip down out of title contention. That isn’t something that United will countenance.
Manchester United have never sold star men to other English teams. They have built their recent dominance on weakening their domestic rivals, never strengthening them. Don’t expect them to start making Chelsea stronger any time soon.