Football: Rooney in his final days as a Red Devil?

United's record scorer Wayne Rooney may have played his last game for the club. The 31-year-old forward is fighting to be fit for Sunday's League Cup final against Southampton and is heavily linked with a move to the Chinese Super League. The Chinese
United's record scorer Wayne Rooney may have played his last game for the club. The 31-year-old forward is fighting to be fit for Sunday's League Cup final against Southampton and is heavily linked with a move to the Chinese Super League. The Chinese transfer window closes on Tuesday.PHOTO: REUTERS

United manager Mourinho refuses to rule out skipper's potential lucrative move to China

LONDON • Wayne Rooney is unlikely to leave Manchester United for the Chinese Super League (CSL) before the Chinese transfer window closes next Tuesday, according to Sky Sports.

The latest speculation comes after United manager Jose Mourinho admitted that he cannot guarantee that the forward will still be at Old Trafford in a week's time.

Asked if Rooney would still be a United player then, the Portuguese said: "You have to ask him. Of course I can't guarantee he will still be here next season."

Rooney's drop in form has caused him to lose his starting place under Mourinho. The 31-year-old is United's record scorer (250) yet has been considering his future, with a move to the CSL an option.

"I cannot guarantee that I'm here next week, how can I guarantee that a player is here next season? What I can guarantee is that, if one day Wayne leaves the club, it is not because I want him to leave the club," Mourinho added.

IT'S ROONEY'S DECISION

I would never push a legend of this club to another destiny. You have to ask him if he sees himself staying in the club for the rest of his career or sees himself moving.

'' JOSE MOURINHO, Manchester United manager, on wanting captain Wayne Rooney to stay at Old Trafford.

"I would never push a legend of this club to another destiny. You have to ask him if he sees himself staying in the club for the rest of his career or sees himself moving.

"It is not a question for me because I am happy to have him. You have to ask him, not me... I don't want him to leave."

Rooney has started only eight league games under Mourinho this season and is already behind the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial in the pecking order at Old Trafford.

And if United complete the €100 million (S$149.07 million) signing of France forward Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid this summer, the United captain's chances of playing regular first-team football will recede even further. On that basis, it certainly seems possible that he will leave the club at the end of the season, with China almost certain to be his next destination.

However, Sky Sports yesterday highlighted that CSL clubs are allowed just three foreign players in their starting line-ups under the new rules and only three clubs still have a slot available for a foreign player.

They are Tianjin Quanjian, Jiangsu Suning and Beijing Guoan.

Tianjin manager Fabio Cannavaro, a former World Cup winner with Italy, has confirmed that he held talks over a move for Rooney but nothing is concrete.

"We did make an approach for Rooney, but it was just chit-chat because he simply doesn't suit our style of play," he told Tianjin TV.

If Rooney was to leave this month, it would close a 13-year United career in which the striker has won every domestic honour plus the Champions League.

His contract expires next year and the club have an option to extend it by a year.

It is understood that he has ruled out a return to Everton, from whom he signed for £27 million (S$47.9 million) as an 18-year-old in 2004, while Major League Soccer's chances of landing the England captain are hindered by the fact that American franchises cannot match the wages that he could earn in the CSL.

Rooney could reportedly become the highest-paid footballer in the world with £1 million-a-week wages if he moves to China.

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2017, with the headline 'Rooney in his final days as a red devil?'. Print Edition | Subscribe