Comment - Wayne Rooney confirms for a third time that he is driven by cold hard cash
So Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has confirmed that he will not leave the club in the next few days after walking away from lucrative offers to seal a transfer to China, but that will not end the suspicion that this is a football superstar driven as much by financial reward as sporting glory.
Following days of intense media speculation, Rooney has confirmed that he is staying at United, in a statement that has taken longer than expected to come from his camp.
"Despite the interest which has been shown from other clubs, for which I'm grateful, I want to end recent speculation and say that I am staying at Manchester United," read the statement.
"I hope I will play a full part in helping the team in its fight for success on four fronts.
"It's an exciting time at the club and I want to remain a part of it."
Rooney's decision to stay at United should ensure he plays some role in the club's EFL Cup final against Southampton at Wembley on Sunday, yet the delay in the announcement fuels the suspicion that he was giving serious consideration to a move to China ahead of their transfer deadline next Tuesday.
For the third time in his United career, Rooney appears to have had his head turned by the offer of more money elsewhere, with his £300,000-a-week wage packed at United likely to have been doubled if he moved to China now.
A less than impressed Roy Keane gave his opinions on Rooney's apparent openness to a move to China on Wednesday night, with the former United skipper clearly less than impressed by his willingness to give up the final years of his career in pursuit of cold hard cash.
“There is no way Wayne Rooney should be going to China,” Keane told ITV Sport.
“He can still play at the top level in England, Spain, Germany or Italy without a shadow of a doubt.
“Going to China? Madness. He’s 31-years-of-age. There is plenty more left for Wayne Rooney to do in Europe. I don’t think he is short of money is he?”
As was the case when Manchester City made a move for Rooney in 2010 and then Chelsea tried to sign him in the summer of 2013, the United skipper has been slow to reject those advances once his loyalty to the Old Trafford club was tested.
Many United fans have never forgiven the striker who fell out with his manager Alex Ferguson following the 2013 escapology attempt and now it is clear that he considered jumping ship from Old Trafford when the going got tough once again.
While this latest flirtation with a departure is more understandable after he lost his place in Jose Mourinho's United team in recent weeks, Rooney and his agent Paul Stretford have shown once more that they are open to being bought by the highest bidder when the moment is right.
Despite this announcement, Rooney's future at United remains uncertain and most would expect him to leave the Old Trafford club next summer, with this latest episode confirming he is wavering in his belief that he can get back into Mourinho's plans.
He may be staying for now, but few will be surprised if the talks Stretford has held with Chinese clubs in recent weeks will eventually lead to a move to the Far East for his star client.
As has been the case throughout his career, Rooney appears to have been driven by money as much as success, with this latest episode merely cementing that unwanted reputation.