Feb. 28 - Wayne Rooney is facing up to a rare trophy-less season with Manchester United, but the England striker is clearly central to the re-building process at Old Trafford. The 28-year-old has signed a new five-year deal which makes him richer than the likes of Messi and Ronaldo. Kimberley Lim asks: is it money well spent?
Wayne Rooney's new contract makes him the best paid footballer in the world. Some have questioned whether the England striker is worth 500 thousand dollars a week. But with Manchester United in a period of transition, they simply couldn't afford to let Rooney to join one of their rivals. Nick Parsons of National Australia Bank. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) NICK PARSONS, HEAD OF MARKETS STRATEGY, EUROPE (SAYING): ''The fact is that the team is in a relatively weak negotiating position when it comes to attracting talent and it's going to have pay up. It may or may not be a very very expensive deal, but in the short term, it's hard to see that they have much alternative.'' Rooney's 25.9 million dollar annual wage eclipses the reported salaries of both Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi of Barcelona. But he still has some way to go to match the top earner's in global sport. Ferrari pay their Formula One driver Fernando Alonso nearly 30 million dollars a season. Boxer Floyd Mayweather made 33.85 million in wages and winnings last year. But it's Green Bay Packers quarter back Aaron Rodgers who's the best-paid sports star - on an eye-watering 42.8 million dollars. In football terms though - Rooney and his striker partner Robin van Persie, are invaluable to United. David Moyes, Manchester United manager. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) DAVID MOYES, MANAGER, MANCHESTER UNITED, SAYING: ''They're both excellent players. You know, our record with them is far better than our record without them, that's for sure. And you know, they're both both goal scorers, and scoring goals, which is great for us. That's why they're top players. They score in the big games and they make the big moments.'' A place in next season's Champions League would be priceless for United. The problem is they're currently languishing 11 points behind that crucial 4th place, with just 12 games to go. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) WAYNE ROONEY, STRIKER, MANCHESTER UNITED FC (SAYING): ''It's important that we finish the season strong and, you know, we take that momentum into next year, but more importantly we finish the season strong and we try and get into that forward spot and then we try and do well in the Champions' League. It's important to us all.'' Rooney's new deal may seem staggering but if he can spearhead United's revival then it'll be money well spent.