Arsenal could be prepared to make a shock swoop for Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, according to a sensational report from Goal.com.
This seems to ignore the lucrative contract Rooney is still on with the Red Devils. His United deal contains figures that would likely make frugal Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger's eyes water.
There's also the not so small issue of whether United even want to sell arguably their most talented player. Since Sir Alex Ferguson announced his intention to retire and Everton's David Moyes was cherry-picked to succeed him, the rumor mill has gone into overdrive.
Most of the rumors have involved Rooney. He has cut a forlorn figure at Old Trafford this season. The England international has been thrust rather uncomfortably into a midfield role to accommodate Robin van Persie.
The prolific Dutchman has succeeded Rooney as United's primary central striker and the club's talisman. Rooney has also been omitted from the team in high-profile games this season.
He was most notably on the bench for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg against Real Madrid. That made whispers of a rift between player and the club even more audible.
As United's title-winning season has lurched toward a finish, Rooney has been linked with moves to Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich.
However, it is the arrival of Moyes that has created fresh intrigue. Apparently Rooney shares a stormy relationship with the man who brought him into the Everton first team over a decade ago.
This has prompted many to suggest a move to another English Premier League club. Joining Chelsea was mooted by The Daily Mirror, citing the West London club's financial muscle and the potential arrival of Jose Mourinho.
Arsenal are certainly the biggest outsiders in the alleged Rooney sweepstakes. Yet putting aside the player's inevitably sky high wage demands and any inclination United may or may not have to sell, would Rooney fit with the Gunners?
On many levels he would be perfect for the brand of football Wenger demands his teams play. Rooney has an innate talent for seeing every player around him.
He also boasts the skill, touch and creative verve to fire a wide range of defence-splitting passes. That makes him the kind of technically gifted link player Wenger wants to lead his attack.
Arsenal need a significant quality boost at the central striker position Rooney plays best. However, concerns over his fitness make him an odd fit with Wenger.
The Frenchman has long been lauded for his adherence to strict dieting among his players. Wenger urges his players to remain in peak condition and to live and train as top-level athletes should.
Rooney might be the antithesis of that view. He has struggled to last 90 minutes several times this season. Speculation has increased that Ferguson grew tired of Rooney's inability or unwillingness to stay in shape, according to The Daily Telegraph.
That kind of thing is unlikely to endear Rooney to Wenger. The Arsenal chief quickly gave up on mercurial Russian attacker Andrei Arshavin for similar reasons.
However, Rooney's considerable natural talent could still tempt Wenger. And Arsenal may finally be in a position to compete on the financial level needed to lure Rooney away.
Their recent kit deal with Puma is said to guarantee Wenger a budget of at least £70 million this summer, according to another report from The Daily Mirror. Landing a marquee talent like Rooney would remind everyone that Arsenal remain serious players in the title hunt.
It would also represent a measure of payback after United snared van Persie last summer. In terms of playing style and upgrading the squad, Rooney is a dream acquisition for Arsenal.
However, signing him would involve Wenger convincing United to strengthen a rival. He would also be breaking financial and sporting habits he has been faithful to for years.17526