Manchester United have secured the services of Wayne Rooney until 2019 after opening up the prospect of multiplying his earnings with a unique deal that could result in the club's commercial arm seeking out lucrative individual endorsements for the forward.
Rooney, who pursued a move to Chelsea last summer, confirmed his contract extension last night by insisting that fears over missing out on next season's Champions League were not a concern and that the club will still attract the world's best players, regardless of their Premier League fate this term.
"I know the direction that this club is going in," Rooney said. "If we don't make it this season, we will come back stronger and claim a Champions League spot next season.
"Let's not forget we still have a chance this year – some of the other teams are playing well, but we have a strong squad here and if we have a positive end to the season then who knows what can happen?
"People have been saying we may have trouble attracting the world's best players but I think the fact Juan Mata came here shows this isn't true."
Rooney has signed a five-and-a-half-year contract worth the same £250,000 a week as his outgoing deal, which was due to expire in June 2015.
But while the contract has now been signed, it is understood that negotiations between United and the player's representative, Paul Stretford, are ongoing over the 28-year-old potentially tapping into the club's hugely successful global sales team to boost his earning power from his own personal sponsorship deals.
Such an agreement would see Rooney, who has deals with Nike and Samsung, maximise his individual earning potential with United's commercial staff working on his behalf to secure lucrative endorsements across the globe.
United will continue to benefit from Rooney's image rights, with the player contributing to the club's commercial programme as before, but such an agreement would be the first of its kind in the Premier League and one which it is anticipated would take the England international's earnings beyond £300,000 a week.
The appeal to the Rooney camp of United's in-house commercial team pursuing deals for the player is borne out by the world-record £53m-a-year shirt sponsorship contract agreed with Chevrolet and overall commercial income last season amounting to £363m.
A breakthrough in the impasse between United and Rooney came during the autumn, when the club were made aware of the player's readiness to commit to a new long-term contract. And United manager David Moyes said that Rooney's dedication and focus since returning to action at the start of the season convinced him that both parties would ultimately thrash out an agreement.
"It's been ongoing for a wee while," Moyes said. "I've probably known, felt it, since August.
"Before I came in here, I met Wayne privately a couple of times to talk about his situation, to try to understand. I remember when he came to see me at my house. I said to him, 'If you ask me what's missing, I think you've gone a bit soft'. I thought he hadn't been the hard-working, aggressive player he was.
"I think deep down he knows he didn't play as well as he could have done at times and I needed to try to get him back to that (previous) level.
"But in the end I just said to him, 'Wayne, go and get on with it', and I think that is what he has done."
Rooney's previous contract was secured following a stand-off with the club in October 2010, when he cited their "lack of ambition" in the transfer market as a factor in his decision to leave. But while no such statement was made during the latest contract wrangle, Moyes feels the prospect of playing alongside high-profile transfer targets and surpassing club legends such as Bobby Charlton appealed to Rooney.
"I said we would be in for all the best players in the world and that hasn't changed," Moyes said. "I can't tell you the amount of phone calls I've had from top players around the world who want to play for this club.
"The one thing I've found about Manchester United is that they decide what players go and when they want them to go. No one wants to leave Manchester United very quickly because they know once you leave here it's not the same.
"For Wayne, I think he's recognised people like Bobby Charlton, George Best and the way those big stars are seen here. I think that, to be a legend at United, it is something where you are associated with this club for the rest of your life.
"Wayne's next thing is that we have to keep challenging him to get those goals, make those big targets." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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