Wayne Rooney said once again yesterday that he had no desire to leave Manchester United as more reports surfaced that Barcelona and Real Madrid will try to take advantage of the financial situation at Old Trafford to prise the player away.
Rooney was talking at a Nike launch at the Lowry hotel in Manchester where he was asked about his new contract: he said he was happy at the club. His current deal runs to 2012 and there is the suggestion that he will not renegotiate until after the World Cup finals this summer.
At the very least, Rooney, 24, would expect to be the club's highest earner although wages of £150,000-a-week are certain to stretch United's wage structure. While United have no reason not to believe Rooney when he says that he wants to stay, they are aware that he is in a powerful bargaining position.
Rooney also made a significant peace gesture with his former club Everton by granting an interview to their in-house TV station. It marks a change from the hostilities that followed his 2004 transfer to United, since when he has been successfully sued for libel by his former manager David Moyes over his autobiography and received relentless abuse from Everton supporters.
Rooney revealed that United had first tried to sign him when he was 14 years old "but it was the wrong time for me to move anywhere". He said Archie Knox, the assistant to former manager Walter Smith, had been "scary" and that Smith had wanted to pick him for a game when he was "just 16, of the back end of 15" but was prevented from doing so because Rooney was still at school.
Premier League rules preclude any child still attending school from playing. His breakthrough came after Everton's FA Youth Cup final defeat in 2002. "David Moyes came into the dressing room after the final and told me to get ready to join the first team's pre-season," he said.Reuse content