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£150,000-a-week deal to keep Rooney at United

MANCHESTER United remain confident a five-year, £150,000-a-week contract will keep Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford despite a growing belief at Barcelona that the England international could be tempted to move to La Liga.

The new contract, likely to be offered to the forward soon, would bring Rooney level with Cristiano Ronaldo as the highest-paid player in United's history, underlining his importance to the team since the Portuguese winger departed for Real Madrid last summer.

United's power brokers are conscious that retaining Rooney's services is imperative if they are to maintain some semblance of harmony with the more mutinous element among the Old Trafford faithful, unhappy at the debts placed on to the club by the Glazers and fearful that he may be sacrificed to satisfy United's financial needs.

The England striker has never intimated a desire to leave the Premier League, but several of the candidates in Barcelona's forthcoming presidential elections are confident that Rooney could be convinced to join Pep Guardiola's side as a replacement for Thierry Henry.

The Frenchman is expected to join Major League Soccer team New York Red Bulls after the World Cup.

Rooney's four goals against Hull on Saturday -- the first time he has achieved the feat in his career and enough to return United to the Premier League summit -- took his tally to 20 in all competitions this season.

It is a total he will be hoping to extend tomorrow night as United try to overcome a 2-1 first-leg deficit to Manchester City at Eastlands to reach their second successive League Cup final. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent