LONDON • Wayne Rooney's agent Paul Stretford held talks in China yesterday amid mounting speculation over the Manchester United captain's future.
The 31-year-old forward has been sidelined by manager Jose Mourinho, which has heightened expectations that he could leave United for the mega-rich Chinese Super League (CSL).
Guangzhou Evergrande, Beijing Guoan, Jiangsu Suning and Tianjin Quanjian are said to be among those Chinese clubs interested.
The British media has reported that he could earn up to US$1 million (S$1.41 million) a week, making him the world's best-paid footballer. However, it remains unlikely that any move would be complete before the CSL transfer window shuts on Tuesday.
Rooney missed Wednesday's Europa League last-32 second leg in Saint-Etienne through injury, but dominated conversation in France.
Mourinho said that Rooney's future was in his own hands, in comments at his pre-match press conference that only fuelled the speculation.
Weekly salary that Rooney could earn in China, making him the world's best-paid footballer.
Year that Rooney joined Manchester United. He is in line to receive a hefty loyalty bonus should he leave.
The Portuguese's comment that he could not guarantee Rooney would still be a United player beyond Feb 28 caught the player by surprise as he has no wish to move on.
While this bemused the club captain, he is unhappy at his lack of regular starts and unless this situation vastly improves before the season ends, he will depart Old Trafford in the summer.
According to The Times of London, Rooney is expected to agree to a payoff if he leaves United, despite the prospect of earning £600,000 (S$1.05 million) a week or more in the CSL.
By the time the Chinese transfer window reopens in June, Rooney will have 12 months left on his current contract, and United may choose to pay him the remainder of his wages - £15.6 million - if he departs.
Rooney is also likely to receive a loyalty bonus given that he has been at the club since 2004, when he signed from Everton in a £27 million deal.
There is a recent precedent for such an agreement, as Robin van Persie was paid a bonus by United - believed to be £8.4 million - after just three years at the club following his £4 million move to Fenerbahce two years ago.
The Guardian reported yesterday that Luke Shaw will also consider leaving United in the summer if he does not play regularly between now and the end of the season.
The 21-year-old, the newspaper said, is upset at the lack of opportunities Mourinho has given him to fight for a first-team place.
The wing-back's longest run of starts for Mourinho is five when the campaign commenced and he has been left out for United's last six games, the manager not deeming him good enough to make the match-day squad for five of those.