The Big Match

Football: Rooney staying to fight for trophies

Wayne Rooney getting instructions from Jose Mourinho after coming off the bench. He may be a substitute again tomorrow.
Wayne Rooney getting instructions from Jose Mourinho after coming off the bench. He may be a substitute again tomorrow. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Forward pledges his commitment to United as he eyes a Cup final appearance at Wembley

LONDON • Wayne Rooney is pushing to play a part in the League Cup final against Southampton tomorrow after committing his short-term future to Manchester United on Thursday.

The England forward issued a statement denying that he was seeking to leave Old Trafford this month after he was linked with a big-money move to China.

According to The Times of London, the United captain will end his 13-year stay at the club this summer unless Jose Mourinho gives him more playing time.

"I want to end recent speculation and say that I am staying at Manchester United," Rooney said. "I hope I will play a full part in helping the team in its fight for success on four fronts."

Rooney's agent Paul Stretford told United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward that the player wished to issue a statement confirming his commitment to the club after he was linked with a lucrative move to the Chinese Super League (CSL).

Rooney is set to be recalled to the squad for the League Cup final after recovering from a hamstring injury.

  • 8
    Starts the striker has made for Manchester United in the Premier League under Jose Mourinho this season.

    2
    League goals the England forward has scored this season.

It is understood that the 31-year-old has stepped up his training this week, undertaking a tailored regimen to put him in contention for the match at Wembley.

But, even though United could play up to 25 more games before the end of the season, Rooney is still not guaranteed to start more than a handful of matches.

He has only made United's starting XI in eight Premier League games under Mourinho, who has selected Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial instead of the England captain.

Unless that situation changes, Rooney will leave Old Trafford in June, with China his most likely destination.

Woodward will also hold talks with Mourinho about Rooney's future at the end of the campaign.

Woodward acknowledges Rooney's contribution to the club over the past 13 years has been great and is known to admire his leadership skills.

But, only if it is in the best interests of the club will he exercise his right to extend Rooney's contract by 12 months until June 2019.

Rooney said that he was "grateful" for the interest shown in him by clubs from the CSL.

Stretford, who flew to China on Tuesday, has held discussions with Tianjin Quanjian, who are coached by Fabio Cannavaro.

Jiangsu Suning and Beijing Guoan pulled out of the race to sign United's record scorer in this window, which closes on Tuesday. But they could be interested in a summer move for the forward.

They could pay him wages of up to £600,000 (S$1.05 million) a week, and Rooney's arrival would boost the popularity of the CSL.

Moving to China this month would have killed off any hopes of Rooney adding to his 119 England caps.

THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2017, with the headline 'Rooney staying to fight for trophies'. Print Edition | Subscribe