Wayne Rooney has officially joined D.C. United after completing a much-ballyhooed transfer from Everton. Rooney, 32, has signed a 3.5-year deal with the Black-and-Red, with further financial details unconfirmed. English reports have stated that, after a long negotiation, Everton will not collect a transfer fee, while the Washington Post says United did pay the Toffees some kind of fee. At this time United has provided no comment on that front. Salary figures have not been disclosed, though multiple reports have claimed a yearly wage of somewhere above $5 million.
Regardless of what the actual figures end up being, Rooney will undoubtedly be the highest-paid player in United history, and the player with the biggest international profile. With 53 goals and 119 caps for England, 5 Premier League titles and a UEFA Champions League title with Manchester United, Rooney is one of the most famous players to sign with any MLS club, and will be expected to raise United’s profile locally and internationally. Across MLS history, Rooney would fit in with signings like Thierry Henry, Kaka, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in terms of recognition.
That level of fame is in part an explanation as to why United is most likely spending more on Rooney’s salary than they are on the rest of their roster combined. It’s no secret that the Black-and-Red need a spark off the field, and the thinking goes that a player like Rooney will break through with local soccer fans who haven’t bothered with the team in the past.
However, United wouldn’t have signed Rooney if they didn’t think the soccer side was going to work out. There are reasonable questions to ask about how much Rooney, after over 800 professional games, has left to give. United, however, is banking on his ability to strike a ball (whether shooting or passing), his soccer intelligence, and his experience to revolutionize this team.
“This is a seminal moment for our fans and organization. Wayne is a global soccer icon and his presence at D.C. United will elevate our product on the pitch and soccer as a whole in our city and in this country. Wayne has thrived when competing at the most elite levels of soccer and we’re thrilled to have his leadership as we enter this new era at Audi Field,” said United managing general partner Jason Levien in a team release.
Rooney is not eligible to play for D.C. until the American transfer window opens on July 10, meaning that his debut in all likelihood will take place on July 14, as United opens Audi Field against the Vancouver Whitecaps. That won’t stop him from joining training straight away, giving United plenty of time to figure out how the pieces fit around their new centerpiece. It also gives them some time to sort out their international roster spot situation, which will likely result in either trading to acquire one or sending attacker Bruno Miranda on loan with the Richmond Kickers.
Given that Rooney has played virtually every attacking position, that’s an open question. Rooney spent a large portion of his last season with Everton in a box-to-box role, but there is no chance that head coach Ben Olsen is going to deploy his new star deeper in the midfield. With Darren Mattocks in the best form of his career, it’s not as simple as the initial suspicion that we’d simply see Rooney plugged into Olsen’s 4141 as a lone striker. That remains the most likely starting point, but United will have two weeks of training with Rooney to sort out their plan going forward.
“It is fantastic to be joining D.C. United at such an exciting time in the club’s history with the new stadium opening in just a few weeks. Moving to America and MLS fulfills another career ambition for me. I have the hunger to be a success here and will give D.C. 100 percent - as I have always done for every team I have ever played for,” said Rooney via team release.