Less than a month since he returned to the Stamford Bridge hot seat, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is up to his old tricks again by trying to upset the proverbial apple kart. The Portuguese coach has been proactively talking to the media about his admiration for Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney and how only a move away from Old Trafford would be of benefit to the player as well as to England. With Rooney already hinting at his displeasure with his existing surroundings, it has presented Mourinho with the perfect opportunity but is it as clear cut as it seems?
Several newspapers reported that Chelsea have made a formal approach in the last few days for Wayne Rooney, who Mourinho has now suggested is his one and only target. It would appear at first glance that Chelsea wish to sign the England international and are stepping up their campaign to do so. However it may not be as cut and dry as it looks, especially with Mourinho involved. The Chelsea boss is the king of mind games, inheriting the crown from Sir Alex Ferguson in the past few seasons as he utilized the media to unsettle his key rivals at pinnacle times to his advantage. With a new manager at United in the form of former Everton boss David Moyes, Mourinho can sense an opportunity to disrupt one of his key competitors before the season even kicks off. A smart tactic given that United will be one of only a handful of challengers to Mourinho as he chases the Premier League title next season.
The bid itself also adds weight to the idea that this is all about disruption rather than a genuine intent to buy the player. Although denied by Chelsea, in terms of what type of deal was offered, a suspected formal cash plus player deal was presented to the United hierarchy earlier this week but neither the valuation nor the players offered made any sense. Currently Wayne Rooney is valued between $25million and $35 million depending on which source you use for your official player pricing. United are unlikely to let one of their key players leave for less than $35-40million so any bid would have to match this in either pure cash or cash plus a player of value relating to the remainder of the total expected fee. Chelsea are reported to have offered $10 million plus either Spanish midfielder Juan Mata or Brazilian defender David Luiz. Both players are valued highly but unlikely to be worth in excess of $30million. Yes Mourinho has talked about his willingness to let Luiz leave, with Barcelona rumoured to be interested in the somewhat ineffective defender, but Mata?? He was arguably Chelsea’s star player last season, alongside Eden Hazard and had Mourinho singing his praises whilst he was Real Madrid boss. Has something dramatically changed at the Bridge that has now made the playmaker dispensable? It’s not as if Rooney could directly replace Mata as both play different positions so the logic doesn’t add up.
Our theory is simple – put in a low bid offer that you know will be rejected in the hopes that it a) disrupts the player and his preseason preparations and b) prompts others like free spending Monaco, Real Madrid and PSG to jump in with a larger bid in an effort to “steal” him away from Chelsea. Either way, Chelsea win. If the bid is accepted, they get a quality striker for little money down and lose hopefully a defender they want to flog anyway. If it’s rejected, others jump in to bid, persuade Rooney to move abroad and United are instantly a weaker proposition. It’s all about the long game for Mourinho and either option works for him as he approaches his first season back in the Premiership. The question is will it work? With Rooney already jumping up and down with excitement and likely to submit a formal transfer request, it looks like Mourinho’s master plan has once again paid off.