Wayne Rooney attends Everton training ground ahead of possible return to club
Wayne Rooney was pictured attending and later leaving Everton's training ground on Saturday as he edged towards a potential Goodison Park return.
The striker who once celebrated by unveiling a shirt reading 'Once a Blue, always a Blue' appears close to rejoining his boyhood club from Manchester United, 13 years after he initially left Merseyside.
Sky Sports News HQ's cameras captured Rooney driving into the Toffees' Finch Farm training base on Saturday afternoon, and he was seen signing autographs for young fans outside before he left.
Talks regarding a return for the 31-year-old have gathered pace in recent days while United have closed on their own move for Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, even if it was initially thought the two deals were not related.
On Saturday United announced they had agreed terms with Everton on the transfer of Lukaku, which is understood to be worth £75million, and the Belgian is expected to link up with his new club in America for their pre-season tour.
That transatlantic journey, made on Sunday, is unlikely to include United's all-time record scorer among its passengers as Rooney readies himself to head back to the club where he first came to prominence as a 16-year-old.
Everton fans only got to witness two years of Rooney in a blue shirt before he departed in 2004 to join United for a fee that rose to £27m.
It was an exit that left a bitter taste in the mouths of many Evertonians and he endured hostile receptions on his early returns to Goodison Park, which were only cranked up when he twice kissed the United badge at his former home in 2007 and 2008.
As time wore on the hatred abated and Rooney, who has retained a strong affection for both the city and the club, even wore an Everton shirt again for Duncan Ferguson's testimonial in 2015.
A possible return lingered in the background, particularly as Rooney's importance to United decreased, though his whopping wage packet and a likely substantial transfer fee were always seen as a stumbling block.
Yet Everton have already shown their intentions this summer with an early spending spree, and Jordan Pickford, Davy Klaassen, Michael Keane and Sandro Ramirez are now set to be joined by England's most prolific international striker.
Former Everton midfielder Peter Reid, who won two league titles with the club in the 1980s, wrote on Twitter: "@WayneRooney welcome home lad @Everton"