Lack of interest may force Rooney to stay at United
Manchester United's prospects of selling Wayne Rooney this summer are in danger of being thwarted by a lack of serious interest from other clubs and the striker's admiration for Barcelona.
Rooney's days at Old Trafford looked numbered after he was axed for Tuesday's Champions League defeat to Real Madrid, with United thought to be willing to entertain bids of around £20m for their former talisman.
But finding the right club for a player who commands £250,000 a week in the current climate of football finance could require negotiations even more fraught than those which resulted in that bloated salary.
It has become received wisdom that the Nou Camp would be his preferred destination should he ever leave United.
But despite Lionel Messi hinting he would love to play with Rooney less than 24 hours after the 27-year-old's future was thrown into doubt, it is a courtship that looks destined to lead nowhere.
Even when Rooney very nearly talked himself into quitting Old Trafford in 2010, Barca declined to pursue any interest they might have had.
Two and a half years on and Rooney is a less attractive option, not just for the Spanish giants but for any club that once had designs on him.
Manchester City all but convinced him to defect two and a half years ago, while he was even said to be prepared to join Chelsea.
But both have since become obsessed with adhering to UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations, along with most big clubs on the continent. Paris St Germain are bucking the trend but even they might baulk at the kind of wage they might have to pay in a country with a crippling top rate of income tax.
All this could leave him with little option than to prove Alex Ferguson wrong and to make himself once again as indispensable as possible at Old Trafford. Rooney will be hoping that starts with Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final against Chelsea.
Being left on the bench for a second huge game in a row would surely represent the final insult for a player who has failed to impress his manager this season.
Ferguson will be fully aware of the potential fallout from another Rooney omission and that might even come into his thoughts when picking his team.
He will certainly take into account Rooney's five goals in his last seven appearances against Chelsea, the striker having been the scourge of the European champions throughout his United career.
Ferguson will also be pleased at the uncharacteristic silence from the Rooney camp following Tuesday's axing. The Scot will not have forgotten the role of Rooney's advisors in the issuing of a transfer request and statement in which he questioned United's ambition back in 2010.
Their determination not to make waves on this occasion suggests they are giving their client every opportunity to turn his Old Trafford career around.
Ferguson is likely to adopt a similarly conciliatory tone during his pre-match press conference, the first time he would have spoken publicly since Tuesday's controversial Real defeat. (© Daily Telegraph, London)