Wayne Rooney wants to rejoin Everton, says Phil Jagielka
Wayne Rooney has gone from hero to pariah at Goodison Park, but Everton captain Phil Jagielka believes the Manchester United striker’s heart is set on making the return journey.
There was a time Rooney suffered such a hostile reaction at his spiritual home following his move to Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson left him out.
That antagonism has subsided in recent years and if the circumstances permitted Jagielka is no doubt about the move Rooney craves most.
“He would come back but he wouldn’t want to come back at the end when he wasn’t the player he was,” said Jagielka. “He wouldn’t want to come back for the sake of it. He would want to come back and make a difference.
“He wouldn’t just come back just for the sake of running around and doing nothing. Wayne has high standards. He would want to come back to break records, score the most goals for Everton - that’s the type of person he is.
“But he’s got a big future, especially doing so well for Manchester United at the moment, and I can’t see them letting him go anytime soon.”
The former Evertonian has often toiled against his old club, the affection possibly stifling his performances.
“I speak to him all the time and he’s always keen to know how we have got on, he’s still a big Evertonian,” said Jagielka.
“Obviously he’s got an affiliation with Manchester United, he’s been there a long time, he’s the captain now, but he still loves this club.
“It’s definitely difficult for Wayne coming back here. You can imagine being the age he was and him playing for the team he supported and then the big move to Manchester United and I’m sure he said a few things and did a few things as a young lad just to defend himself.
“He still gets a little bit of stick, although it’s dampened down, but it is the way Wayne is he probably wants to show it too much, maybe trying too hard when he comes back.
Rooney’s return is as tough an experience for the Evertonians, who are given a glimpse to the gem snatched away too soon and a reminder of what might yet happen to their latest prospects, consistently linked with big-money transfers.
The fear is John Stones and Ross Barkley will follow the Rooney blueprint, and Jagielka admits he is worried.
“Yes, definitely when you look at it,” he said.
“It looks like Chelsea are going to win the league, and those around them will want to make statements by buying players. If their shopping lists have some of our players on them, they have an open cheque book. That is football, not just at our club.
"You find a player and within 18 months they are a getting poached. I’d like to think we will keep everyone we want to keep and the manager will get whoever he wants in. Sometimes it’s a little inevitable, but we have a lot to offer and we want to give the fans something positive to look forward to going forward next season.
“It’s always the same when you have good players, and good young players like we’ve got, people are going to look at them and be writing about them. People will move on, people you expect to stay will go and people you expect to go will stay. That is the way football goes.
"I am sure this summer will be the biggest turnaround in players we have seen for a while. There are people coming to the end of their contracts, age-wise, and people who are not getting enough game time. When you don’t have a successful season some people do not get the opportunity to rectify a good season, that’s the way football goes.
"If people have underperformed this season is it not guaranteed they’ll get the chance to put it right next season. That’s how ruthless football can be. I hope we have a strong team and most stay together and we crack on, but I know one thing, that if people go the money will have to be top dollar because we have some fantastic players.”
“Our turnover is not up there with other clubs and we don’t have a billionaire owner who can write cheques. That’s the way we are. But in terms of our development and what we offer as a club, it’s a lot more than throwing the cash and buying teams.”