Could Wayne Rooney, the insanely talented but perennially troubled Manchester United striker, be on his way to Spain and a reunion with former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo? According to The Daily Telegraph, as well as rumors flying around the world of European football (aka soccer), the Spanish giant Real Madrid are preparing what is sure to be a rich transfer bid to wrench the discontended superstar away from the reigning Barclays Premier League champions.
If it happens, the transfer would not only reunite Rooney and Ronaldo, who won three Premier League titles and a UEFA Champions League trophy together during the five seasons they played together with the Red Devils, it would also put three of the world’s four highest-paid footballers on the same Real Madrid payroll.
Wayne Rooney, according to Forbes which keeps track of athlete’s earnings, currently rakes in about $18 million per year in salary and playing bonuses— a number likely to go up assuming the likelihood that he would negotiate a new deal at Real, if the Spanish club acquires him.
Ronaldo pockets about $23 million per year. Gareth Bale, the Welsh fullback whom Real extracted from Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur last summer with what was reported to be the largest transfer deal in history, negotiated a $25 million annual paycheck as part of his agreement to take his talents to Spain.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi earns just over $20 million in salary. But none of those numbers include endorsement deals, which let many elite European soccer stars, such as that quartet, double their earnings.
But Real can afford it. Again per Forbes, the Madrid club with a record 32 league championship trophies in its display case is the world’s richest soccer franchise, with a total valuation of $3.3 billion.
Big bucks aside, a Real squad boasting Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale all on the same team sheet would appear on paper to be unstoppable, even in Spain’s La Liga, where Barcelona and this year, Real’s crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid are all battling for dominance.
As of this week, the three teams are bunched at the top of the La Liga table, with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid separated only by Barca’s five additional goals. Their point total is level at 51, with Real just one point off that pace, in what seems like an unlikely third-place spot — with 19 games left in the current La Liga campaign.
Over in England, however, things have not been as rosy for the defending champs. Under new manager David Moyes, who took over from retiring legend Sir Alex Ferguson, Wayne Rooney’s team has struggled, and repeated injuries to their mercurial striker haven’t helped the cause.
The champs currently reside in seventh place, which would put them out of the running even for UEFA Europa League competition next season. Their 37 points has them six behind the final Champions League qualifying slot — that is, the league’s fourth-place spot — currently occupied by Liverpool.
Arsenal’s 51 points at the top of the table would appear to put another championship well out of reach for Wayne Rooney and his mates, making his summer move to Real Madrid, a team basically guaranteed Champions League action, all the more enticing.