Manchester United’s English striker Wayne Rooney / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF
Jose Mourinho has confirmed Wayne Rooney will remain at Manchester United for the rest of the season despite reports linking him with a move to the Chinese Super League.
The Chinese transfer window does not close until the end of February and the England forward’s name has been linked repeatedly with astonishing offers from a country where professional football is enjoying an explosion in financial investment.
But Mourinho insisted Tuesday that Rooney, 31, will stay in his squad until at least the end of the season, despite having long since lost his status as an automatic first-choice at the club where he has been such a key player for the last 13 years.
“Yes,” said Mourinho when asked if Rooney, who recently became United’s all-time leading goal-scorer, will see out the season at Old Trafford.
“We don’t have players in, we don’t have players out, we lost two players from the squad,” the United manager added.
“You can say Memphis Depay (who joined Lyon in the January transfer window) and Morgan Schneiderlin (signed by Everton) did not play a lot, but the reality is they played some matches, and when they did, others didn’t, and when they played, others were rested.
“When Schneiderlin played, it meant (Paul) Pogba, (Michael) Carrick or (Ander) Herrera didn’t. You lose players sometimes it does not look important because they were not first-choice players, but in the end they’re important if a club is going to have a difficult season.”
United are still active in four competitions — the Premier League, League Cup, FA Cup and Europa League — and Portuguese boss Mourinho has spoken repeatedly about his concerns at the lack of numbers in his squad.
Even though Rooney has seen his name linked with a move that could be worth up to £1 million a week in China, Mourinho has fought to keep him at the club, at least for the remaining four months of the campaign.
However, it seems increasingly likely the veteran England forward could still be heading for the Far East in the summer.
– ‘Know what I want’ –
The only player Mourinho feared he would lose before the English transfer window closed at the end of January was winger Ashley Young, who was also linked with China as well as Premier League clubs Watford, West Brom, Swansea and West Ham.
“He’s staying, he’s selected for tomorrow,” said Mourinho, speaking on the eve of Wednesday’s league fixture with Hull. “He stays with me until the end of the season. It’s finished.”
Mourinho, like most of the other managers near the top of the Premier League, has had a quiet January transfer window with the sales of Schneiderlin and Depay his only major business.
However, the United manager believes that January transfers are becoming increasingly difficult for the Premier League’s leading clubs and the summer is now the more important period for team strengthening.
“I cannot speak for the other teams, their decisions, what they think,” he said. “In our case, we are more focused on the summer period. I like my players, so nothing for me.
“The market closes today, so there is no point in me speaking about the next transfer window when we have so many matches to play, so much to fight for, so many good players to work with.”