MANCHESTER – Manchester United are understood to be open to selling Wayne Rooney to a Chinese Super League club in the summer, but only if they make a marquee signing.
United have received an offer from a Chinese club for their 30-year-old captain, who is sidelined for six weeks with a knee injury
Rooney (30) could earn at least £500 000-a-week in the Far East, however M.E.N. Sport understands United would need to offset his potential departure with an eminent replacement their global partners would approve of to promote their products.
Despite a few chastening seasons at United, Rooney remains the most marketable player at the club due to his longevity and success at Old Trafford, as well as with the England national side.
Rooney is expected to surpass Sir Bobby Charlton as the club’s record goalscorer and remains United sponsors’ most requested player to plug their brands, evidenced by shirt sponsor Chevrolet’s recent viral video with the United No.10.
United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has made unsuccessful attempts to sign Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar since he replaced David Gill in 2013.
Last week, Woodward acknowledged the Chinese Super League could benefit United in the transfer market.
“So far, this is the biggest window in preparation for the next season, so I do think there’ll be more activity in the summer, but it’s very, very difficult to predict the impact that will have,” Woodward said in United’s quarterly conference call.
“If nothing else, it (Chinese Super League)’s another useful market if we’re looking to sell any players.”
Rooney has enjoyed a resurgence recently, scoring seven goals in his last nine games after enduring arguably the worst spell of form in his 13-and-a-half year career.
Argentina international Ezequiel Lavezzi became the latest European-based player to head to China earlier this week, when he joined Hebei Fortune in a £23,5m two-year deal.
Meanwhile, Stuart Pearce feels Rooney’s injury-enforced absence will benefit England, because it will allow younger players to get some valuable pre-Euro 2016 experience.
Rooney did not travel with the Manchester United squad for their Europa League tie against Danish side FC Midjytlland last night and is likely to miss around six weeks of action with a knee injury.
The problem may also rule Rooney out of England’s two warm-up matches for this summer’s European Championships, against Germany on March 26 and Holland on March 29.
Pearce feels that may actually benefit Roy Hodgson’s preparations, as it will allow less established strikers such as Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane to get some valuable game time.
“I think it’s a real bonus, although Wayne won’t see it like that,” Pearce told Sky Sports News. “It freshens him up for the summer and gives Roy (Hodgson) the chance to look at a few of the other players.
“If Wayne was in the squad I think Roy would have felt obliged to play him in the warm-up games and that blocks a place for one of the younger players to come in and get some experience.
“We know what he can do and I don’t think we would have learned anything from playing in the friendlies.”
Pearce does feel, however, that Rooney’s absence will harm his club side.
“It certainly will affect them because they need forwards,” he said. “They needed a forward to supplement Wayne Rooney so without him they’re very, very short up front.
“They will miss him quite badly but they’re not chasing the title, they’re not chasing the Champions League, so the impact will only be seen in the Europa League.”
Former Manchester United defender Danny Higginbotham feels the loss of Rooney will completely alter the way the team plays.
“He gives them something different,” he said. “He’s quite willing to drop deeper and so when you’ve got pace either side of him, with (Jesse) Lingard and (Anthony) Martial, he provides the space for them to get into.
“Martial in particular likes to get in behind the defence and so what I think teams will do if he’s up front is sit deep so there isn’t that space to get into.
“So Manchester United will go back to what they used to be, which is a side that plays in front of teams.”
Higginbotham also feels Nicky Butt’s appointment as head of academy at United is a vital one, as several of the more recent junior graduates have only been given their chance due to injury.
“They have always given young players a chance but, of the recent ones, other than (Jesse) Lingard, they have probably only been given those chances because of injuries,” Higginbotham, himself a Manchester United academy graduate, told Sky Sports News. “It’s not been because they’ve been performing unbelievably well in the Under-21s.
“As a club, they’ve always had the mentality that age doesn’t matter, you will get that opportunity.
“When you look back at the class of 92, they came through because they were good enough. Now the players are getting the chances because of injuries.” – Manchester Evening News.