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Wayne Rooney to be used as part of Cristiano Ronaldo swap?

New (and conflicting) reports of Wayne Rooney's departure from Manchester United have emerged, so let's take a look.

Alex Livesey

There appears to be more bluster over Wayne Rooney's potential exit from Manchester United - in addition to Alisher Usmanov speaking about him the other day, there are now two reports in. The first, via Graham Hunter and some bookmakers, suggests he's off to Real Madrid, possibly as part of a swap for Cristiano Ronaldo. The second, which is far less fun, is that he's going to Chelsea.

Let's deal with the first. 'Bookmaker suspends betting' is rarely much to get too worked up about - it takes a very small amount for betting to be closed on transfer markets, particularly late at night, for obvious reasons. In this case, however, 'maximum stake' bets have been specifically stated. That's some very confident punters, and you may well recall huge bets being placed on Rooney leaving Old Trafford some time before Babby's First Transfer Request was actually handed in.

So far, so intruguing, and added to this is the following tweet from our old pal Graham Hunter last night, in response to being asked whether Rooney could leave as part of a deal for Ronaldo.

Yes, this is pretty thin stuff alright. Well, it wouldn't be the first time Real Madrid have made a questionable move for a big name. Some on Twitter suggested that this tweet was responsible for the Rooney bets, but that's nonsense - nobody's going to put a maximum stake on a throwaway line like that.

Later on, Hunter tweeted specifically on the bets, saying:

In other words, somebody has certainly been told something by someone else. Not much to go on, and granted, it's blatantly obvious. But personally, I suspect we could be seeing some more on this very, very soon.

Anyway, onto the other rumour: Chelsea. The Sun make the claim that Rooney has informed José Mourinho that he's up for joining him in London, but that's all. So far from a declaration they'll actually sign him, or even that José has reciprocated his desires. The bad news on that front if you're hoping to see Rooney leave is that they cite a source close to Mourinho saying "José loves all the great players." (Pause for canned laughter.)

But seriously, folks, the two combined would seem to suggest that Rooney is planning his getaway. From that, we can basically trace a timeline since the start of this season: Falls out with Alex Ferguson, Fergie drops him for big games, he gets annoyed and asks to leave, Ferguson reacts by skewering him on live television by informing him that he's handed in a transfer request, Rooney desperately tries to retreat across his burning bridges claiming it wasn't a real transfer request and he had his fingers crossed anyway and he didn't mean them things what he said, David Moyes gets appointed, no olive branch is extended and Rooney's camp decide to start putting the word out that he wants out. That's where we are now. The next few days could get very interesting over all this. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: Hang about, that was even faster than I thought. While I was writing this, along come The Mirror with this, claiming Rooney will have a word with David Moyes to try and sort out his future and then probably leave. Arsenal and Chelsea are the destinations they suggest, no mention at all of Real Madrid. I told you this one would move quickly.