If you take second to visualise it, the memory of a 17 year old Rooney, donned in Everton blue, feels like only a moment ago. Fresh, raw, and full of potential.

Typical of Rooney to kill the ball dead on his first touch, as Sol Campbell backed away, and gave the 17 year old space to move forward and unleash a 30 yard drive passed a helpless David Seaman. Ending Arsenals 30 game unbeaten run, and setting one of the many individual records of his career for the youngest scorer in Premier League history.

Destined to be a superstar.

A £30 million move to Manchester United, five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, two League Cup, four Charity Shields, one Champions League, and a World Club Trophy, as well as becoming England and Manchester United’s all time top goalscorer, or simply fifteen seasons later, that young boy has reached manhood, and is now facing the toughest decisions of his career.

With Sir Alex a distant figure in his career, and becoming more and more of a peripheral figure under Jose Mourinho, rumours of a potential transfer have become more and more increasing.

At the age of 31, and no longer delivering the performances he once could in his younger days. His inability to adapt to his limitations, have never been more apparent. His role has been adjusted, and he has been tested in a variety of positions for club and country to try and get the best Wayne Rooney available, having been played on the left wing, behind the striker, in a holding role, up front, nothing seems to fit this once firing striker.

Since Alex Fergusons resignation, even in the great managers final season, Rooney did not look like the player that once looked like he could reach that echelon of top 4 or 5 players in the world.

After handing in a transfer request not long after the departure of Sir Alex, it wasn’t long before Wayne took a U-turn on his career and put pen to paper on a £300k a week deal to play under his former manager David Moyes. It could be finances that swayed him, it could have been the familiarity of Moyes, the manager who gave him his start, but he went on to hit 17 league goals that season, but by the end of the season David was shown the door.

Almost three seasons later and Wayne has only totalled 20 league goals in 78 games since then, he is no longer the calibre of player that can dictate the terms of his contract.

Almost three seasons later and Wayne has only totalled 20 league goals in 78 games.

Rooney Man U V EFC licensed CC Attribution-SA 4.0 Int

Mourinho has been extremely bold with his decisions regarding Rooneys squad involvement, to drop the club captain, and clubs all time top goalscorer, required a lot of strength on his part. Get the decision wrong and not only would he have the press on his back, he would have the supporters calling for his head if fortunes didn’t turn. Not many managers would have made such a ruthless decisions, but Jose has always been a winner, and he’ll always make decisions based on whether or not the team will benefit. Once again, he’s currently proving his decision correct.

With Sundays League Cup Final with Southampton on the horizon, whether Rooney does or does not make the squad is a complete coin toss. The likelihood of him gaining a starting berth is almost non existent. Zlatan has come into the squad, 4 years his senior, and has shown the aggression and desire to win that has apparently burned out in Wayne.

Enter China, and the MLS. With a reported £1 million a week contract beyond offered to Rooney, and the Chinese transfer window not closing before next week he has a decision to make. Mourinho has left the choice in his hands, he will not confirm or deny that Wayne will remain beyond the closure of that window. Obviously it would be a massive bonus for Mourinho if he could free up those kind of wages to compete next season, he’d lose a player with undoubted talent, and love for the club, but nonetheless, a player who is earning way above their pay grade and not delivering consistently.

It’s a sad decline that a player who has contributed so much to the club has reached this point so young in his career, at 31, it almost looks as if the glory days are over, and he won’t be able to copy the feats of club legends Ryan Giggs, or Paul Scholes and carry on until a late age, whilst still remaining consistent.

The ball is in Wayne’s court. No doubt a host of Premier League clubs would take him on, but at a much lesser salary, in the hope he can provide them with one last hurrah. Or does he duck out of the spotlight, where he has become a target of the press more and more of the years, more recently for drinking after an England fixture, and earn his last big payday, perhaps in a lesser league, but where he will undoubtedly will be adored.

He has nothing left to achieve in terms of personal feats. Beating Bobby Charltons record for club and country, he has secured legendary status.

One thing is for sure, his playing future is no longer with Manchester United. It now all boils down to his love for the game. Will he take a pay cut and stay at a high level, see out his contract and warm the bench, or take the big money offer and play at a less competitive level.

You wouldn’t blame him if he did leave.