London: Wayne Rooney is closing in on a new £300,000-a-week contract at Manchester United after deciding to end uncertainty over his future by abandoning plans to leave.
With the Premier League champions close to finalising the £37million signing of Juan Mata from Chelsea over the weekend, United hope to move quickly to end the Rooney saga in order to allow the player to focus solely on the club’s pursuit of Champions League qualification in the final months of the season.
Negotiations between United and Rooney have taken place this month and the player has been encouraged by the club’s readiness to hand him a lucrative new deal and their determination to resist all offers to sell him.
Rooney, who had wanted to leave United last summer following the breakdown of his relationship with former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, stopped short of submitting a formal transfer request to force through a move to Chelsea at the start of this season.
And although the 28-year-old was expected to be courted by Chelsea, Real Madrid and Arsenal this summer, the England forward is understood to have authorised his representatives to open talks with United over a new long-term deal to replace the final 18 months of his £250,000-a-week contract.
David Moyes, the United manager, who watched the Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Patrick Herrmann in action against Bayern Munich last night, has worked assiduously throughout this season to repair Rooney’s relationship with the club following his fall-out with Ferguson.
Despite an acrimonious libel case brought by Moyes against Rooney in 2008 Ė which was settled out of court — following claims by the player in his autobiography, the two men had made up their differences long before the Scot’s appointment as United’s manager last May.
And Moyes’ persistence and efforts with Rooney appear to have been rewarded with the player accepting that his long-term future lies at Old Trafford. Rooney’s representative and adviser, Paul Stretford, sparked speculation over the player’s contract situation when he was photographed driving into United’s Carrington training ground on Thursday.
But while the purpose of that visit was to oversee Rooney’s involvement in a Nike marketing campaign centred around his involvement at the World Cup this summer, discussions with United’s executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, have been ongoing and have progressed well.
Rooney’s decision to stay at United is rooted in his return to prominence under Moyes following his fall from grace during Ferguson’s final season in charge. Having been a central figure in Ferguson’s plans ever since his £27million signing from Everton in August 2004, Rooney fell out of favour last season, with the former manager repeatedly criticising the player’s fitness and sharpness before naming him only as a substitute for the Champions League last-16 second leg at home to Real Madrid in March — a game which United lost and were therefore eliminated from the competition.
Ferguson’s subsequent decision to claim that Rooney had asked to leave United angered the player, with the club’s failure to defend him publicly also fuelling his decision to pursue a move to Chelsea.
But with United’s rejecting two bids from the London club last summer and Moyes holding firm on his intention to keep the player, Rooney has impressed the new manager and senior figures at Old Trafford by returning to his best form this season.