LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 17: Wayne Rooney of Manchester United scores the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on January 17, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

The Chase for 260 goals, can Wayne Rooney catch Alan Shearer?

Wayne Rooney didn’t have a very good 2015, at least by his standards. In a Manchester United shirt, the striker only scored 13 goals in the entire 2015 calendar. In the Premier League alone the number is only six. Rooney’s biggest moment in 2015 actually came in an England shirt when he became the countries all-time leading goal scorer, passing Sir Bobby Charlton.

There was plenty of talk about Rooney’s best days being long gone, but now that 2016 is here, it seems the old Rooney has returned. With 3 Premiere League matches played, Rooney has scored 4 goals, including an important winner last weekend against Liverpool. With the England record firmly his for the foreseeable future, Rooney now begins his hunt for an even bigger goal scoring record, Alan Shearer’s 260 Premier League goals.

The big question for Rooney, now in his 30s, is can he ever get there, and how long will it take him? Shearer scored his 260 goals across 441 games, Rooney has already played 425. So Rooney’s goal per game ratio is well behind Shearer’s. But all is not lost for Rooney. Shearer’s record doesn’t take into account his time with Southhampton, before the Premier League was created, back when it was simply called the First Division. What this means for Rooney is that he will certainly have a longer Premier League career than Shearer did.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 02:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United scores his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Swansea City at Old Trafford on January 2, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – JANUARY 02: Wayne Rooney of Manchester United scores his team’s second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Swansea City at Old Trafford on January 2, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Rooney has played 425 games, and he turned 30 in October. When Shearer played his 425th Premier League game he was 35. Let’s assume Rooney plays until he’s 35. This isn’t unreasonable, some strikers have played even longer. Claudio Pizzaro is still kicking at 37 and Francesco Totti is 39. Looking at Rooney’s goal scoring record, he averages .45 goals per match, and per season he has averaged 13.6 goals. We’ll be kind and round up to 14 goals per season. If Rooney keeps up this pace in five years he will have scored 261 goals, which would put him at the top of the Premier League goal scoring chart.

We’re not done, though, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, Rooney’s season isn’t over, and if he can keep up his form in the new year he’ll tack on a few more goals, and that will help his goals per season average. Second, he has managed to stay healthy for most of his career. Rooney has never started fewer than 27 matches in a Premier League season. Longevity is just as important as skill when chasing a record like this.

Staying healthy will obviously be key, but staying on form will be just as important. The biggest thing that could hold Rooney back is himself. His goal scoring trouble at the end of 2015 is something that could keep him from reaching 260 goals. His career goals per match is .45, but since the start of 2014, that number has dropped to .35 goals per match. Mathematically, if Rooney is going to have a chance to break the record, he’ll need to keep up with 14 goals per season, assuming his career ends when he’s 35. At .35 goals per match, and considering he has averaged 31 matches played a season, he would only average 10 goals a season. At that rate, he would come up short.

Only Rooney will know when it’s time to hang up his boots. Suggesting that 35 is when he will retire is slightly conservative and that bodes well for his chances. If he stays in England until 37 or 39 like Totti, then he’s likely to break Shearer’s record, even considering his lower goal rate.

Against Liverpool on Sunday he broke one record, he scored his 176th goal for Manchester United. He passed Thierry Henry for most goals in Premier League History for the same club. Breaking Shearer’s record is next on Rooney’s personal to-do-list. His 2016 resurgence is good for his chances. He just has to keep it up.

Harrison Prolic

About Harrison Prolic

Northern Illinois graduate with a degree in Journalism. Full-time page designer in Madison, Wisconsin. Part time follower of all things German soccer. I tweet about the Bundesliga and plenty of other sports @hprolic.

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