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United’s new super-sub?

wayne-rooney-bench-manchester-united-real-madrid-champions-league-last-16_2910900After claiming twice in less than a week that Wayne Rooney was not for sale, David Moyes has highlighted the striker’s new role which will be, well, to play second fiddle to Robin Van Persie.

Considering the contrasting performances of both players last season, Moyes’ decision is completely understandable, particularly after Rooney’s reluctance to commit his future to the club with more or less blatant attempt by his camp to engineer a move elsewhere, while Ed Woodward, United’s executive vice-chairman, admitted that the 27-year-old won’t be offered a new contract for the time being.

The papers unanimously describe Moyes’ stance on the pecking order at the club as “playing hardball” with Rooney.

“Wayne can play up on his own, he can play dropped in. Overall my thought on Wayne is, if for any reason we had an injury to Robin van Persie, we’ll need him,” Moyes is quote saying in the Guardian, “I want to be able to play the two of them, I want to use Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernández as well. I want to give myself as many options as possible.”

The Mirror follows suit, claiming that Shinji Kagawa is, at long last, set to be deployed in his favourite position behind the main striker, meaning Rooney could spend a lot more time on the bench than he would like to, with Moyes firmly intentioned to prevent his players from getting ideas above their stations.

“Manchester United isn’t about Wayne Rooney. Manchester United is about the team – the club.

“I won’t allow Wayne Rooney to become more important than the football club and the football team, because that’s the heart of it,” said the United manager.

Elsewhere, the Guardian and the Mirror report that United have missed out on Thiago Alcantara, after Bayern Munich agreed a £21.6m deal for Spain U21 captain who will be reunited with former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola in Germany. The 22-year-old is the latest on a seemingly endless list of top targets United have missed out on in recent years but, at least according to some of today’s papers, United could soon be knocking at Barcelona’s door again this summer.

The Independent claims that Moyes is set to revive his interest for Cesc Fabregas, but he’ll face a tough battle to lure the Spaniard away from the Camp Nou, particularly now that Barcelona have agreed to part ways with Thiago. Furthermore, the paper adds, “United would need to find in the order of £34m if they are to secure the former Arsenal player’s services,” while “any interest in Fabregas from Arsenal would create another immediate impediment for United,” given that the Gunners have a £25m first-option clause.

United were linked to the former Arsenal captain earlier this summer, before turning their attention to Thiago as Fabregas made clear he had no intentions of returning to the Premier League, therefore there seems to be very little evidence to back up the Independent’s story. Furthermore, if Thiago was really a “plan B” United might well have to find themselves a “plan C”.