Rooney could quit United for just £5m using Fifa loophole
Wayne Rooney could potentially terminate his contract with Manchester United for just £5m if he is prepared to remain at the club for the rest of the season.
Under Article 17 of Fifa's transfer regulations - the so-called Webster ruling, named after the former Hearts player Andy Webster - Rooney would be entitled to buy out the final year of his current annual salary of just under £5m, plus a small compensation fee, leaving Manchester United drastically out of pocket.
The Webster ruling states that a player under the age of 28 can walk away from his contract after a 'protracted period' - in his case, three years - has expired.
Rooney would fall into that category as he last signed a new contract with United in November 2006, aged 21.
Rooney could have bought out the last two years of his contract during the last summer transfer window, but has the option of paying up 12 months' salary in the summer of 2011, provided he gives 15 days' notice in writing.
The possibility of Rooney leaving for such a price-cut fee will put further pressure on United to conclude a deal in January, when the webster ruling cannot be invoked.
Meanwhile, Arsène Wenger is certain that Sir Alex Ferguson will eventually persuade Wayne Rooney to stay at Manchester United.
In Cesc Fabregas, Wenger was successful in convincing his own restless star player to remain at Arsenal during the summer, and he says it is always possible for a manager to repair problems with a member of his squad.
“Rooney is a great player and I am convinced he will stay at Manchester United,” said Wenger. “Why? Because it is his club. They have the power to keep him. He will stay where he is.”
Wenger did also express surprise that Rooney had been able to run down a contract that expires in 2012 but believes there are still only “three or four” clubs in the world that could afford him. It can be safely assumed that he does not include Arsenal in that category.
“For Rooney, it will not be a financial choice,” said Wenger. “He will decide if he stays. He would say, ‘Old Trafford is my home, I will stay there’. And Manchester United would turn up with the right number. He knows that; they know that.
“It is part of a club. We have people who only negotiate contracts at our club and I come in when it is needed. When you have a professional squad, the first team plus players after 16, you are always in renegotiations.”
Wenger’s thoughts were echoed by Jose Mourinho, the Real Madrid manager who has also been linked with a move for Rooney. “I don’t think he will [become available],” Mourinho said. “I think the big man [Ferguson] will persuade him to stay.”
With Arsenal keeping Fabregas, Mark Schwarzer remaining with Fulham, Phil Jagielka staying at Everton and Fernando Torres still at Liverpool, there has been a clear trend this year of clubs resisting interest in their best players.
“It is down to the club that football is a world competition now — and you have plenty of players unemployed,” said Wenger. “The competition is much higher than before. That is the only reason.”
Wenger also dismissed the argument that it was simply best to sell someone who wanted to leave. “I can return that question: do you think you always have to give in? Cesc was a special case because he is from Barcelona. He loves Arsenal.”