Wayne Rooney is set to seal a surprise move to Derby County – but the Rams would be getting a different player to the one who left Everton last summer.
Derby owner Mel Morris has confirmed to talkSPORT he is in talks with Rooney over a player-coach role at the Championship side.
The former England, Manchester United and Everton striker is keen to return home after one-and-a-half seasons with Major League Soccer’s DC United.
The 33-year-old has starred in the United States, scoring 25 goals and assisting 13 in 46 appearances and also helping DC to last season’s MLS play-offs.
But former MLS player Liam Ridgewell says England’s record goalscorer has taken on a different role since moving to DC.
Ridgewell, who spent five seasons with Portland Timbers and recently signed for League One side Southend United, says signing Rooney would be a ‘massive coup’ for Derby – but he is no longer the striker who scored over 250 goals for Manchester United.
LATEST TRANSFER NEWS AND GOSSIP
Asked if swapping MLS football for the Championship is a step up or step down for Rooney, the former Premier League defender told the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast: “That depends on the games you’re playing out in America.
“Some games are top end Championship when you’ve got the big crowds and you’re playing against Zlatan Ibrahimovic at LA Galaxy.
LIVE on talkSPORT
Check out all the live commentaries coming up across the talkSPORT network this week
- Portsmouth vs Birmingham (Tuesday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
- West Ham vs Manchester City (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT
- Leeds vs Nottingham Forest (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT 2
- Crystal Palace vs Everton (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
- Tottenham vs Aston Villa (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORT
“Then you get some other games where you’re not getting the big crowds, because the game is still getting big over there.
“I think the Championship be a great level for him and one he’ll do very well in; he’ll be able to show his qualities.
“He’s been scoring some worldies for DC United, but also speaking to some of the boys out there, he’s still demanding of the other players, making sure the team ticks and still doing his usual stuff.
“He’s been playing a slightly different role out there. He’s taken a deeper role, trying to mix up the play and work everybody in.
“But he’s still a quality act and it would be a massive coup for Derby to get him if they did.
He’s kept himself fit over there and he can still do a job if they could put him in the number ten role, to get on the ball and make things happen.”