After months of transfer speculation, it seems Manchester United have finally reached an agreement to retain the services of striker Wayne Rooney The 28-year-old has signed a new contract which will earn him a reported £300,000 per week, making him the highest paid player in the history of the Premier League.
Rooney's astronomical wage increase will inevitably lead many skeptics to ask the question: "Is he worth that kind of money?"
Of course, it's difficult to justify the sums of money being paid to footballers when most fans of the sport won't earn £300,000 in ten years of work. But football is a multi-billion dollar business and each year its popularity is growing on the European and world stages.
The last television deal in Britain saw BSkyB and BT win the rights to broadcast the Barclays Premier League for a staggering £3bn over just three years. And starting in the 2015/16 season, BT Sport will showcase UEFA Champions League and Europa League matches for three years after securing a broadcast deal worth close to a billion pounds (£897m).
The influx of money from television rights and commercial revenue from a global market will continue to see player wages skyrocketing at the big clubs. And despite its recent "transitional period", Manchester United is still one of the giants of world football with a global fan base of roughly 500-600 million people and a net worth of somewhere around £1.5 billion.
So, is Wayne Rooney worth £300,000 a week? The answer is simply: "Yes."
Manchester United are one of the largest clubs in the world and Wayne Rooney has been their best player for years, hands down. United fans would not want to think what position their club would be in the league table had Rooney not been part of the squad this year.
During the first half of the season, due to the club's inability to add a creative player to their midfield and persistent injuries to key personnel (including Michael Carrick and Robin Van Persie), Rooney was called on to be a "man of all trades" by Manchester United manager David Moyes. Despite the club's glaring deficiencies and poor team performances, game by game, Rooney was able to keep United in striking distance of the top four (until recent weeks).
The forward has continued to spearhead United's attacking threat while also covering every blade of grass in support of his teammates in defence. Rooney has consistently played with a ferocious passion and youthful enthusiasm which United supporters have come to expect from him over the years.
Perhaps there is no individual in United's dressing room who better understands or symbolises what David Moyes wants from his players than Wayne Rooney. The relationship between player and manager appears to have picked up from where it was left off while the two were at Everton and the new manager has hinted that Rooney will eventually assume the club's captaincy (perhaps as soon as next season).
"I think Wayne has always had the ability to be a captain," explained Moyes. "He's got that love of football as the biggest thing because he loves the game and loves the ball and kicking it around. He's a natural and, in his own way, leads by example in what he tries to do. In future years, he could be the skipper here."
Rooney's footballing qualities and his ability to drive his teammates to higher performance levels make him irreplaceable at the club. The 28-year-old will be the on-the-field model for future Manchester United players to emulate.
His long-term presence (as well as Juan Mata's) will also let potential transfer targets know that United are still challenging for domestic and European success in the years to come.
So, is the best player and future captain of Manchester United (one of the biggest clubs in the world) worth £300k a week? Once again, the answer is: "Yes."
Peter Quinn is an avid Manchester United fan who has previously written for USA Today and World Soccer Talk.
This piece was provided by the ManUnitedWorld fansite. You can find them on Twitter @ManUnitedWorld.