Wayne Rooney: Man Utd striker’s Old Trafford future uncertain

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Wayne Rooney: Man Utd striker’s Old Trafford future uncertain

Could Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney accept a lucrative offer to play in China?

The 31-year-old forward’s Old Trafford future is the subject of intense debate.

Rooney broke United’s goalscoring record at Stoke on 21 January and made his 28th appearance of the season in their FA Cup fourth-round win over Wigan on Sunday.

But the England captain – also his country’s record goalscorer – is the subject of serious interest from the Chinese Super League.

Eased out at United?

Of United’s outfield players, only Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba have featured more often than Rooney in all competitions this season.

Yet the 31-year-old’s eight Premier League starts are fewer than Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial, the same as Marcus Rashford and only one more than summer signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who made only his second league start at Everton on 4 December.

Manager Jose Mourinho has said he does not view Rooney as a midfielder, where he had been used so often by former manager Louis van Gaal, but as a “9 or a 10 or a 9 and a half”.

However, the signing of Ibrahimovic effectively blocked off the main striker’s role. Especially since the Swede has 18 goals to his name in just 30 appearances.

The relative lack of Premier League starts has led to speculation that Rooney, who joined United from Everton for £27m in 2004, is being eased out of Old Trafford by Mourinho.

Interest from China

It is understood Rooney is aware of significant interest from the Chinese Super League, who have spent vast sums on the likes of Carlos Tevez and Oscar recently. He knows the huge amounts that would be on offer to a player of his status as captain of both England and one of the world’s biggest clubs.

In addition, his long-time adviser Paul Stretford has links with China through his ‘turn-key’ Red Lantern digital media agency.

Although the Premier League transfer deadline is 11pm on Tuesday, the Chinese Super League remains open for transfer business until 28 February.

So, there is another month for Rooney to leave United for China and such a scenario has not been ruled out.

Mourinho, who turned down an offer from China himself, has said repeatedly he would not stand in the way of any player who wanted to leave Old Trafford and has also said he would not blame players for accepting the offer of a large Chinese contract, especially those coming towards the end of their careers.

Nevertheless, after selling Memphis Depay and Morgan Schneiderlin already this month and saying Ashley Young might leave, letting Rooney go without bringing anyone in would represent a risk given United are active in three cup competitions in addition to chasing a top-four place.