Is Wayne Rooney, one of the world's best paid footballers, about to leave Manchester United? Reports in the British press suggest the England striker has requested a move after arguing with his manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Click to hear the report:
Wayne Rooney is a supremely gifted footballer. He was voted the Premier League's player of the year. His goal-scoring flair for Manchester United was universally admired, but his form dramatically dipped when playing for England at the World Cup. There has been no marked improvement this season. For the first time in his career, people have started to question his proficiency.
Then, last month, allegations surfaced about his private life. And more recently he dared to contradict in public his club manager Sir Alex Ferguson, when he told reporters he had not been struggling with an ankle injury.
Reports of a rift between the pair were fuelled further when Wayne Rooney was demoted to the substitutes' bench for Saturday's game against West Brom. As David Beckham once discovered, when a player falls out with Sir Alex Ferguson, there is usually only one winner. Manchester United have described the rumours of Wayne Rooney's imminent departure as nonsense.
But negotiations on a new contract have stalled. Potential suitors will have been alerted. Real Madrid, the big Italian clubs and, heaven forbid if you're a Manchester United fan, Manchester City, have all been mentioned. Over the past week Sir Alex Ferguson has kept his counsel on the issue. Perhaps he is still trying to work out what to do with Wayne Rooney.
Alex Capstick, BBC News, London
Click to hear the vocabulary:
- dramatically dipped
got spectacularly or significantly worse quite suddenly
- marked improvement
sign of getting better
ability or skill
rumours or gossip
- dared to contradict
was brave enough to challenge or disagree with
breakdown in the relationship between two people
intensified or highlighted
- potential suitors
other teams who want to buy him
- heaven forbid
hope or wish something will not happen (literally a religious reference hoping 'God' will make sure something does not happen)
- kept his counsel
has not made any public statements about the situation; has kept his opinions on the subject to himself