Wayne Rooney is aiming to resolve his Manchester United future with incoming manager David Moyes next week amid concerns that Alex Ferguson's anger over his 2010 contract stand-off is jeopardising his prospects of remaining at Old Trafford.
With Rooney expected to report for England duty on May 27 for the end-of-season friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil – and with his wife, Coleen, due to give birth to the couple's second child within the next fortnight – Moyes is likely to meet Rooney next week to clarify the player's position and that of the club.
Although Ferguson confirmed on Sunday that Rooney had been omitted from the squad for the 2-1 victory against Swansea City as he "was not keen to play because he asked for a transfer", it is understood that the England forward remains open-minded about staying at the club following the Scot's decision to retire at the end of the season.
The deterioration of the pair's relationship appeared to be borne out following the Swansea game by Ferguson's cursory handshake with Rooney after the player had received his Premier League winner's medal. In contrast, Ferguson warmly embraced the other members of his title-winning squad.
While Rooney has been a key figure for United since signing a new contract in October 2010 following a divisive public attempt to force a move, fault-lines exposed by his week-long conflict with the club have remained during the intervening years and there is now a belief that the player has been paying the price for his 2010 actions during Ferguson's final days and weeks as manager.
The Rooney camp have refused to comment on the player's situation, but Ferguson's decision to go public with his transfer request has done little to dispel the perception of friction between the two.
Ferguson has repeatedly voiced his concerns over Rooney's form, fitness and confidence this season and, with the goalscoring success of Robin van Persie shifting the emphasis away from the former Everton striker, the United team have moved on from their previous reliance on Rooney's goals.
United sources have claimed that Rooney's decision to submit a transfer request is based on his frustration at losing his regular position in the team and the 27-year-old's determination to seek a challenge elsewhere.
Having revealed the player's request to leave when speaking after the Swansea game, Ferguson pointed to Rooney's dissatisfaction at losing his place as the key factor.
"He wasn't happy about being brought off in games this season," Ferguson said. "But Wayne Rooney in top form wouldn't be taken off.
"We are not going to let him go. I just think he is a bit frustrated about being taken off once or twice in the last few weeks, but it is not my decision now."
Ferguson's admission that Rooney's future is no longer his responsibility is an acceptance that the player's situation will now be resolved by Moyes once he begins work as United manager next week.
Although Moyes' six-year contract is not due to start officially until July 1, it is understood that he will address all outstanding issues at Old Trafford once he completes his reign as Everton manager with Sunday's Premier League trip to Chelsea.
But while Rooney's future is the most high-profile issue in Moyes' in-tray at United, the Scot is also due to consider other time-sensitive matters such as defender Rio Ferdinand's contract, the future of Portuguese winger Nani and the club's potential sales and purchases this summer.
Former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas has emerged as a possible target following claims in the 'London Evening Standard' that United had made a move for the Barcelona player, but there has been no confirmation of any interest from within Old Trafford.
Moyes' most immediate priority is likely to be the sanctioning of a one-year contract for Ferdinand.
Ferdinand's contract expires at the end of June and, while the 34-year-old is keen to stay at United for at least one more season, the former England captain has received several lucrative offers to play in China, the Middle East and United States.
Moyes' arrival could signal a reprieve for Nani, who had been set to be sold by Ferguson after rejecting a contract offer earlier this season. (© Daily Telegraph, London)