John Giles: China move could come this summer because no big club will be interested in Wayne Rooney
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THE hype around Wayne Rooney and China is over for now but it won’t go away. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if he moved there in the summer.
It’s his life and he should only do what is best for himself.
He’s getting loads of advice. I was more than a bit surprised to hear Roy Keane’s description of Rooney’s possible move to China as “madness”.
Keane reckons that Rooney still has much to offer at the top level in Europe and by implication, that he would be wasting his talent in China.
First of all, let’s talk about China and what is happening there. The Chinese football authorities have a project to build 50,000 academies by 2025, capable of catering for 1000 kids each.
The target is to develop 50 million competent footballers in less than ten years and I don’t doubt that they will do it.
They are moving to limit the number of foreign players in Chinese Super League clubs and have clearly studied what happened in America even if they haven’t avoided the same kind of excesses.
The first attempt to seed the USA with football was made with cash and a lot of it. I remember at the time people wondering why Pele would lower himself to play for the New York Cosmos and laughing to myself.
It was all about the money but although the bigger project failed and professional football in America collapsed, it took hold at grassroots level and by the time the MLS came around in 1993, they had a base to work with.
Recent World Cups have seen the reward for that growth. America are now competitive at international level.
At club level, the standards are rising too and it was into this environment that Robbie Keane arrived just after David Beckham, another good point of comparison for Rooney. Both men were there to sell the game as much as play it and in different ways, they did a brilliant job. They had a great time doing it too.
Keane finished up with a basket of medals, hero worship and his reputation in America gilt-edged.
There were many who criticised him for going but what more could he have done in England?
It’s the same for Rooney. I would be amazed if a big club wanted him so why not think outside the box?
Put yourself in Rooney’s shoes. He’s England greatest ever international goal-scorer.
He is Manchester United’s greatest ever goal-scorer and he probably has £100m in the bank. Why not go to China and turn that into £150m, have the experience of a lifetime in the fastest growing football market in the world?
I think Rooney is smarter than people think and he will make up his own mind.