Column | Rooney return to Everton is the right move

In this Jan. 21, 2017 file photo, Manchester United's Wayne Rooney waves to fans after the English Premier League soccer match between Stoke City and Manchester United at the Britannia Stadium, Stoke on Trent, England. There was wide speculation that Rooney was being enticed with big-money offers from China but ended up staying at Old Trafford. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira, File)
Rui Vieira/AP photo

Wayne Rooney is back where it all started. After spending 13 years with Manchester United, he is back at Everton, where he made his Premier League debut at age 16. Rooney has signed a two-year contract with the Toffees and will become an important part of the team as it tries to take on the Top 6.

After 559 matches and 253 goals, Rooney is leaving Old Trafford to make his return to Goodison Park, where he burst onto the footballing scene in 2002. After coming through the youth ranks at the club, Rooney spent two seasons on the first team before United forked up £25.6 million to get the then 18-year-old striker to join the Red Devils.

During his time at United, Rooney won five Premier League titles, one Champions League title, one FA Cup title and one Europa League trophy. Although he’s leaving United, Rooney says he’s still hungry to win trophies.

“It is some time since I said that the only Premier League club I would play for other than Manchester United was Everton, so I am delighted that the move has happened,” Rooney said.

“Thirteen years ago I went to United with the intention of winning trophies, and I have been fortunate to be a part of one of the most successful periods in the club’s history. I have come back to Everton because I believe Ronald Koeman is building a team that can win something, and I look forward to playing my part in making that a reality for the club I have supported since a boy.”

Rooney saw his role at United diminish in the past couple of seasons, and he was used both in midfield and up front. It remains to be seen where Koeman will choose to deploy Rooney, but with the sale of Romelu Lukaku to United, it seems most likely that Rooney will start the season as a forward, unless Everton gets another striker in.

“His main quality is his quality on the ball, his experience and what I describe as his winning mentality,” Koeman told Evertonfc.com. “Everybody knows he can play out of different positions up front. He’s a smart player. He’s an experienced football player ,and that helps everybody.

“We have a lot of young players, and sometimes in life you need somebody who you look up to, who you learn from. That was also one of the messages when we spoke about, on and off the pitch, what his function will be in the team.”

Rooney will bring a lot of experience to the side, and Koeman is smart to bring back a club legend with   that type of resume. His leadership qualities will be a great addition to a team that strives to challenge the Top 6, and the youth players at the club will surely try to soak up as much knowledge from the former England captain. It also gives Rooney one last chance at being a regular in the Premier League and play a big role on a team with ambition.

Having spent a lot of last season on the bench, Rooney will be hungry to get back into the groove of being a starter and show that he still has what it takes to be a productive player at a high level. His versatility allows Koeman some freedom, too, and if he deems that Rooney isn’t the best fit as a striker in the Dutchman’s system, then he can use him as a No. 10 or as a central midfielder. It will also be a nice opportunity for younger Everton fans to see Rooney play in the blue shirt once again.  

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