Wayne Rooney brings something different to English soccer. Not only is he the first player to admit to having hair plugs, he's also a rare British striker who plays more like a South American player.
Rooney has scored eight goals in four Premier League games for Manchester United this season, including a pair of hat tricks. His skills have been compared to Brazil legend Pele by his coach, Sir Alex Ferguson, who said "there are similarities that way in strength, speed and determination.”
You can also add technical ability to Ferguson's assessment. How else would you explain his ability to drop deep, pick the ball up and distribute like a midfielder last season, showing that he didn't need to score to be affective? Or his ability to play as a target man when needed, putting his back to goal and bringing others into the run of play? Or how about his stunning bicycle kick that was nominated for an ESPY earlier this year?
“Rooney is the best British player so far,” said Benfica coach Jorge Jesus, speaking to reporters ahead of his team's Champions League match against Rooney's Manchester United squad. “But he plays like an Argentinian or Brazilian. He can decide a match in the last third of the field."
Rooney would be able to step right into Brazil's current lineup. Ronaldhino is aging and recently rejoined the team after an extended absence. Neymar is known more worldwide for his comments on the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona than his play on the pitch. And Pato is too inexperienced on the international level, having played only 14 games.
Meanwhile, Rooney, the youngest player to ever play for England's national team when he made his first appearance at 17 years old in 2003, has 28 goals in 72 international games. And he's accomplished those feats in the same style as one of the greatest ever.
“Look at Pele,” Ferguson told reporters. “He was a very aggressive attacker as well who could look after himself. So can Rooney."
Rooney is off to an incredible start with his club team this season as he looks to break his individual season record of 34 total goals set back in 2009-10. Over the last two weeks, he became only the fourth player in Premier League history to record back-to-back hat tricks.
"I'm sure [breaking his record] is a target for him," Ferguson said."I don't think that matters for him at the moment though. I'm sure he doesn't go out at the start of the season thinking that way."
"But as the season progresses like it did two years ago, when the target was to get over 30, he reached it very quickly and ended the season with 34 goals."
With the recent return of Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez to the starting XI, the Red Devils are in great position to continue being one of the most explosive offensive teams in the world. They have already outscored opponents 18-3 this season. If Rooney hits his mark, Manchester United could be unstoppable.
"If that's the target this season and he gets to that, then I'll be absolutely delighted because with Chicharito's ability to score, we could have two goalscorers above 25."