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What would Manchester United signing Lewandowski mean for Wayne Rooney?

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While you’d have thought that Manchester United wouldn’t be in the market for a new striker, reports continuously suggest they are set to sign Borussia Dortmund frontman Robert Lewandowski in the summer for a supposed fee of £20m.

Boasting Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez, Wayne Rooney and Premier League top scorer Robin van Persie, the striking ranks are swelling with talent at Old Trafford. Having already netted 59 goals in the Premier League this season, the need to bolster the frontline isn’t all too much of a necessity.

Nevertheless, over the past six months Lewandowski is believed to have been courted by manager Sir Alex Ferguson as he attempts to assemble a squad capable of of dominating Europe once again, with the Poland international supposedly at the top of the 71-year-old’s wish list.

Interest in the Dortmund striker isn’t a shock to any, having netting 18 goals in 28 games in all competitions for the Bundesliga side this year, not to mention his 30 in 47 last season. The likes of Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur had taken a liking in the 24-year-old, with both in need of a striker to bolster their respective manager’s attacking options.

Yet, regardless of the talent available to Ferguson, it’s looking increasingly likely that Lewandowski will be a Manchester United player come the summer. The thought of the Poland international lining up alongside Van Persie and supported by Shinji Kagawa and Antonio Valencia is certainly a tantalising one, but where does it leave Rooney?

Back when United signed the England international from Everton in 2004, the striker announced himself to the watching world in spectacular fashion to those at Old Trafford, netting a superb hat-trick in the 6-2 win over Fenerbache in the Champions League and, as a result, becoming the youngest player to ever score three in the same game in the competition.

Since that evening in September 2004, Rooney has gone on to net 193 times in 387 games for United – an average of a goal every two games. The perfect number 10 and the man to provide the foil in the attacking line for the Red Devils.

So why is it only this season that it feels as though Rooney has to prove himself once again? Back in 2010, the striker came close to sealing a move away from Old Trafford after questioning the strength of the United squad Ferguson had assembled.

Days later, the England man make a surprise U-turn before penning a five year deal at the club. Since that day, the striker has been slowly rebuilding his bridges with the United fans, despite coming close to departing a little over two years ago.

Nevertheless, at 27 this could well be the year that makes or breaks Rooney. His performances, it has to be said, aren’t of the standard he achieved back in 2004, with the player regularly drifting through a poor patch of form between November and February before ending the season strongly.

An epitome of this came in the 1-1 draw with Swansea City back in December. Rooney lasted just 78 minutes of the stalemate before being hauled off by Ferguson having completed just 80% of his passes and seeing none of his eight attempts on goal find the back of the net.

His season has been one of his least prolific in his United career and all but summed up his inconsistency he shows during the winter months. It’s no shock that there are those that believe this is a career defining campaign for the Englishman as he looks to silence his critics once and for all.

The reports of Lewandowski set to arrive over the summer will only spur Rooney on to convince United that the money for the Dortmund man can be saved and spent elsewhere, most notably on a midfielder they desperately need.

However, should the club pursue their interest in the 24-year-old, where will it leave the United man in the future? There are those that have suggested moving him back into midfield. His tenacity, attitude and energy could be fully utilised in the middle of the park, while adding another option for Ferguson.

With Paul Scholes set to retire for a second time at the end of the season and Darren Fletcher currently out for the remainder of the campaign, his versatility would also come as asset to Ferguson as he looks to wrestle the Premier League title away from rivals Manchester City.

This could lead to a change in formation to benefit the club as well, especially if Rooney and Michael Carrick anchor the midfield allow the likes of Kagawa, Valencia and Van Persie to really push on and attack the opposition.

Should Lewandowski, as reported, arrive in the summer, United will undoubtedly alter their system to suit the powerful Pole, but it is unlikely Rooney’s career with the club will come to an end. Granted, he’ll have to move away from his favoured position on the frontline, but it could well prolong his time at Old Trafford, while reinventing himself as a player.