WAYNE ROONEY'S future at Manchester United became increasingly more doubtful after he was told that Robin van Persie will retain the centre-forward position at Old Trafford this season.
Rooney, who cut short his pre-season tour of the Far East and Australia by returning to England from Bangkok to undergo treatment on a hamstring injury last Thursday, has yet to speak publicly about his United future following claims by former manager Alex Ferguson in May that he wants to leave the club.
With Chelsea and Arsenal ready to sign the 27-year-old should he declare an intention to leave Old Trafford, United manager David Moyes and chief executive Ed Woodward have both insisted that the player will not be sold and that negotiations over a contract extension will not take place within the next 12 months.
It is understood that Rooney's dissatisfaction at having lost his role as first-choice striker to Van Persie last season is a central factor in him becoming unsettled at United.
Rooney found himself deployed in a series of deeper-lying positions by Ferguson last season before being demoted to the substitutes' bench for key games in the closing stages of the campaign.
Moyes has made it clear to Rooney that Van Persie will continue to play centre-forward and the Scot has raised fresh doubt over the England international's role by admitting that he regards Shinji Kagawa's best position as the No 10, in the space between Van Persie and the midfield.
Moyes is keen to accommodate both Rooney and Van Persie in his team, but has told Rooney that opportunities to play in his favoured position will only arise when the Dutch striker is unavailable.
Bayern yesterday reached agreement with Barcelona on a €25m deal for 22-year-old Thiago.
Thiago's move to Germany on a reported four-year contract will reunite him with former Barca coach Pep Guardiola.
"I know him very, very well," Guardiola said. "He is a super, super player. He can play in three, four or five positions."
Failure to land Thiago has prompted United to target Fabregas, but they face a tough battle to secure the 26-year-old midfielder. The loss of Thiago will reduce Barcelona's inclination to sell and United would need to find in the order of £34m if they are to secure the former Arsenal player's services.
There has been an acceptance at United that Fabregas is the type of player the team needs as they enter a new era under the management of David Moyes.
Any interest in Fabregas from Arsenal would create another immediate impediment for United.
The deal that took Fabregas back to Spain gave the Gunners a £25m first-option clause should they want to take him back. That would give them first refusal at that reduced price.
Having missed the first leg of United's tour in Thailand, where Moyes suffered a 1-0 defeat in his first game in charge of the club against a Singha All-Stars XI in Bangkok at the weekend, Van Persie has joined up with the squad in Sydney ahead of next Saturday's friendly against the A-League All-Stars.
Saturday's fixture was the first played by Ryan Giggs in his role as player-coach and the 39-year-old admits he has already noticed changes with his new responsibilities.
"It is completely different from playing," Giggs said. "Even though I have been playing for 20-odd years, you are seeing the other side of it.
"You are seeing how you prepare for games and it is something I had not experienced as a player.
"Some things I knew, others I didn't. It has been a real education and I am really enjoying it.
"I am excited about it and it has worked well so far, but it is about getting the balancing act right because I am still playing.
"It is looking behind the scenes and seeing how everything works. I am enjoying it so far."
Giggs believes that he still has a major contribution to make on the pitch and his hunger for success is not sated, even after 22 years and 13 Premier League titles.
"Crazy, aren't I?" the 39-year-old said. "I'm enjoying it just as much as I did 20 years ago. It's as simple as that." (© Daily Telegraph, London)