Football: Rooney never close to joining Chelsea, says ex-United CEO David Gill

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney applauds after their English Premier League soccer match against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England, September 14, 2013. Rooney was never close to joining Chelsea in the summer because Manc
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney applauds after their English Premier League soccer match against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England, September 14, 2013. Rooney was never close to joining Chelsea in the summer because Manchester United would not have sold him, former chief executive David Gill said Sunday, Sept 22, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Wayne Rooney was never close to joining Chelsea in the summer because Manchester United would not have sold him, former chief executive David Gill said Sunday.

The close season was dominated by a complicated transfer saga in which Chelsea pushed hard to take Rooney to Stamford Bridge after the player appeared to suggest he wanted to leave, but United would not budge.

And according to Gill, still a United director, there was never any chance of the 27-year-old England forward leaving.

"We are not in the business of strengthening our key competitors in England," Gill told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme. "You have to see our response when Gabriel Heinze wanted to join Liverpool (in 2007).

"We went to a Premier League arbitration panel to show that we didn't commit to him moving within England for a certain sum of money.

"We wanted to keep (Rooney) in any event and not sell him overseas.

"You don't win football matches with money in the bank.

"You want players on the pitch. Wayne Rooney has been, and will continue to be I am sure, a great player for Manchester United."