Wednesday 25 April 2018

Man United could sell Wayne Rooney before close of the Chinese Super League transfer window this month

Wayne Rooney, left, with Jose Mourinho
Wayne Rooney, left, with Jose Mourinho

James Ducker

Manchester United could still sell Wayne Rooney before the close of the Chinese Super League transfer window this month.

Several Chinese clubs chasing Rooney believe there is a chance of striking a deal with United before their transfer window closes a week on Tuesday.

Jose Mourinho has suggested Rooney will remain at Old Trafford until the end of the season as United, who face Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup fifth round at Ewood Park on Sunday, continue to fight on four fronts.

But that situation could change if the United and England captain, who has not started a Premier League game since mid-December, proves receptive to a move over the next 10 days.

Rooney has offers worth at least £32 million a year on the table to move to China while United could command a substantial fee for the 31 year-old, who still has 18 months left on his existing £300,000-a-week contract. A summer move may still seem more likely but Rooney’s Chinese suitors are working hard to make a deal happen.

The commercial value behind signing the existing United and England captain, and all-time leading scorer for his club and country, would be unprecedented in scale for the Chinese and be by far the biggest coup for the rapidly-expanding game in Asia.

Beijing Guoan, who tried and failed to sign Rooney last summer, and Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao are two of the clubs who have been linked with moves for the player.

Rooney is in the process of having a new home built on a sprawling site in the North West but that would have no bearing on whether he moved to China.

Rooney is understood to be ready to play against Blackburn but Mourinho has been cryptic about the striker’s fitness this week, as well as that of midfielder Michael Carrick. The United manager said before Thursday’s Europa League victory against Saint-Etienne that he would not class Rooney as injured but that the player had a muscular problem that would rule him out of the game and there was a similarly opaque message on Friday.

Asked if Rooney and Carrick would be available against Blackburn, Mourinho said: “I want them to be fit. I want them to be ready. Even [on Thursday], if they were, they would be involved [against Saint-Etienne]. I am not sure they will be ready because the game is in two days but let’s see.”

Rooney’s fall down the pecking order at Old Trafford has been marked in recent months, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford Mourinho’s preferred strikers, and his record-breaking 250th goal for United against Stoke City last month was his first in the league since August 14. He has also completed 90 minutes just twice since early December.

Paul Scholes, Rooney’s former United team-mate, suggested in an interview this week that he could not see the player seeing out his contract at Old Trafford if things continue in the same vein.

“If it carries on going the way it is, I can’t,” Scholes said. “Maybe it will be re-assessed at the end of the season if he’s in and out of the team. I don’t see him as a player who will accept that. He will want to be at a team where he’s playing every week.

“It’s a strange one. No one will be more frustrated than Wayne at not playing. Being a sub will be driving him up the wall. When he gets his chance he has to take it because he has real competition. It will be killing him just coming in for the Europa League or the FA Cup. But it’s up to him to get his head down and prove he can play in the big games.”

United will make a late fitness decision on midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who missed the Saint-Etienne game through illness.

Telegraph.co.uk

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