LONDON (AFP) - Robin van Persie has spoken of his desire for Manchester United team-mate Wayne Rooney to remain at Old Trafford this season, in an interview published on Sunday.
Unsettled Rooney is wanted by Chelsea, who have already had two bids for the England marksman turned down by United.
Although United manager David Moyes publicly insists Rooney is not for sale, press rumours continue to claim he will soon be leaving the Theatre of Dreams.
But someone who is desperate for him to stay is strike partner Van Persie, who says one of the reasons he came to the club in the first place was his desire to team up with the 27-year-old.
"Everyone wants Wayne to stay and deep down, I think he feels the same," van Persie told The Sun newspaper.
"One of the reasons I joined Manchester United was to play with Wayne. I hope he stays. Not only is he a great goal-scorer, he does so much work across the pitch.
"He hates to lose - that's why you see him one minute pressing for goal, the next minute defending ferociously. He is an asset to any team.
"He will come good again. He is a strong lad."
Rooney has not featured in any official friendlies in pre-season as first a hamstring and now a shoulder injury have hampered his quest to gain full fitness.
He has been training with the reserves this week in a bid to accelerate his return to fitness but was still left out of the squad for Sunday's Community Shield against Wigan.
He was picked by England manager Roy Hodgson for next week's international friendly against Scotland but Moyes believes Rooney is not yet ready to play.
"I had a long conversation with Roy about it last week," Moyes told MUTV.
"Wayne has had a shoulder injury. He has been sore with it, which has meant he has not been able to have any contact, so he hasn't trained with us (the first team).
"He has trained a little bit with the reserves as a non-contact player, a floating player, so at least he got a little bit of football work.
"He trained with the first team today (Saturday) and he did a bit of extra work, so he is probably more likely to be ready for England than he will be for us.
"You've got to remember he has had no football practice.
"I explained all this and I would only expect Roy to play him for a short time."