Can Wayne Rooney step up to the Messi standard?

Wayne Rooney looked set for another great season last year. However, after a blazing campaign in 2009/10 that saw him score 34 times in a Man Utd shirt, it never materialised. Rooney had a very up and down year and had to be content with not only watching Barcelona’s Lionel Messi walk off with the World Footballer of the Year award, but also the Champions League trophy.

Wayne Rooney has gone on record as saying that he hopes to get to the same level as Messi this season, as the Barcelona ace is a the standard by which others are measured. At 25, Rooney is a year older than Messi, but will this season see him be a year wiser than the pint sized Argentinean?

Wayne Rooney has been improving each season up until last year

Wayne Rooney’s best season in a Man Utd shirt came in 2009/10 where he had 34 goals in 44 games in all competitions. After selling Ronaldo, Rooney had picked up the slack and was on fire. At one point in 2010 he looked like the best player in Europe, but an ankle injury against Bayern derailed his season.

Prior to that 2009/10 season, Rooney had been getting better each year at Old Trafford, as his minutes per goal were decreasing and his shooting accuracy was on the rise with every season that passed:

Season Games Goals Mins Per Goal Shots Goals from Shots %
2004/05 37 14 202 126 11%
2005/06 45 19 200 184 10%
2006/07 54 23 197 196 11%
2007/08 43 18 191 147 12%
2008/09 49 20 177 161 12%
2009/10 44 34 107 232 15%
2010/11 40 16 201 137



Last season Rooney had only 16 goals in all competitions for Man United, after he took a step back from his best year in a United shirt. Injuries were a problem, but also contract negotiations too, as Rooney wanted out of Old Trafford, then only days later he signed a new 5-year deal. At points in the season, he looked a pale shadow of the player who had netted 34 goals the season before.

Lionel Messi is at another level

At a year younger than Rooney, Lionel Messi has improved in each season at Barcelona and broke the 50-goal barrier last season, as he swept all before him to win the World Footballer of the Year, La Liga and the Champions League. He is the standard by which every other striker on the planet is being measured against right now and he is not just a goal scorer, but also a fantastic passer, as 28 assists last season highlight.

Over the same period as Rooney, his numbers are off the charts:

Season Games Goals Mins Per Goal Shots Goals from Shots %
2004/05 8 1 172 18 5%
2005/06 23 7 177 52 13%
2006/07 34 15 173 50 30%
2007/08 40 16 185 105 15%
2008/09 51 38 103 146 26%
2009/10 53 47 86 219 21%
2010/11 55 53 87 235 22%


Messi’s goals have increased each season, his number of shots is on the rise each year and a consistently high percentage of his shots are goals (20%+). His minutes per goal have also come down to under 90 minutes in the last two seasons – incredible.

What Wayne Rooney has to do to reach the same level as Messi:

Shooting accuracy
Wayne Rooney’s goals to shots ratio is consistently around the 12% mark, he had one good season in 2009/10 where he stepped it up to 15%, but he has to do better than that. Lionel Messi has been over 20% in his last three seasons and that is where Rooney needs to get to.

Over the last three seasons, Lionel Messi has taken 600 shots to Rooney’s 530. If Rooney wants to step up and be the man like Messi, he’s got to shoot more. In his best time for United when he scored 34 goals, he took his most shots (232) of any season and only played in 44 games. In 40 games last season he only took 137 shots – that’s just not going to cut it.

If you gave both Rooney and Messi 230 shots a season, Rooney would score around the 35-goal mark, Messi would score 50. Rooney has to be more consistent, it’s a big step up, is he a great goalscorer or a scorer of great goals?

Creating goals for others

Wayne Rooney has a tendency to drop very deep to pick up the ball and develop the play. He does have 33 goal assists in the past three seasons, but when you compare this to Messi’s 49 in the same period, Rooney has to do his creative work higher up the pitch.

Can Wayne Rooney reach the Lionel Messi standard?

It’s a big step up for Rooney to be statistically on the same level as Lionel Messi. Man Utd don’t play with the same attacking style as Barcelona and so it’s going to be difficult for him to reach the number of goals and assists that Messi provides for his team. What he can do though, is up his shooting accuracy and turn more of his shots in to goals, that will up his impact factor withe the team. If Messi is the target, he cannot have another season like last time out.

Join The Team:

Get new analysis delivered to your inbox:

, ,


  1. Rooney joins Dascombe team | Manchester United Schedule and Fixtures - January 20, 2012

    [...] Rooney has purchased a yearling which is set to go into training with Tom Dascombe. [ Read More ]Manchester United and England footballer Wayne Rooney has purchased a yearling which is set to go in…loat:right;margin:5px;">[ Read More ] WordPress › [...]