Wayne Rooney's Manchester United future is likely to hinge on his willingness to accept a highly incentivised contract if he is to take home the same £250,000-a-week pay packet he was awarded in his last deal.
Rooney's failure to justify the most lucrative salary at Old Trafford is one of the problems new manager David Moyes and chief executive Ed Woodward face in matching his agent Paul Stretford's expectations for a new deal. With an increasing number of Premier League clubs seeking to make up to a third of new-contract salaries performance-related, a deal contingent on games played, goals scored and United's own success seems likely to form a key part of the club's negotiating stance.
It was unclear whether the Rooney and United camps held the meeting they had scheduled for this week, though they did have the opportunity. The new chief executive was present at the Carrington training ground, where the players had a double training session.
He addressed the squad himself from a small stage set up within the training facility. Rooney, who arrived at 9.30am, is understood to have looked happy to be back in his work surroundings and showed no sign of tension, though that does not preclude him pushing for a transfer to Chelsea when he eventually sits down to discuss his future at the club.
The Rooney issue is likely to dominate the Old Trafford press conference at which Moyes will sit alongside club captain, Nemanja Vidic, and be formally introduced as United manager at 4pm today, five days after starting work at the club. Ahead of the keenly awaited presentation, he and the club sought to emphasise the continuity at United by announcing Ryan Giggs's appointment as a player-coach and Phil Neville's return to the club as a member of the coaching staff.
In the short-term, Giggs is viewed as a key individual in United's battle to get Rooney's career at the club back on track. The Welshman's recent eight-day Pro-Licence coaching assignment at the Under-20s World Cup in Turkey demonstrates his aspiration to manage, though United will be looking to him in the short term to play a vital role in persuading Rooney to seize the fresh start that Moyes is ready to give him. With a dearth of players who can influence Rooney in the dressing room, the 27-year-old's relationship with Giggs means he is far more likely to stand a few home truths from him than any other player. Rooney's relationship with Rio Ferdinand, for example, is not as strong.
Giggs is likely to urge Rooney to consider the positives in Moyes's arrival: that the new manager is ready to accept the Englishman's protestations that he did not formally demand a transfer request of Sir Alex Ferguson, weeks before the manager's retirement, and that he is likely to give him more opportunity to prove himself in the preferred attacking role which Ferguson denied him. His decision is likely to come down to money and whether he is willing to accept there is no big new salary package for him.
Having confirmed Steve Round, Chris Woods and Jimmy Lumsden were following him from Everton, concern had been expressed about the lack of United experience in Moyes's backroom team following his appointment as Ferguson's successor. Neville's arrival at the club's training complex on Thursday morning, where he launched himself immediately into a training session, will help to allay such concerns.
Neville said of his new post at United: "When David called to give me this opportunity, I couldn't resist. I gave my all when I played for Everton but it is no secret that this club is in my heart. When I retired from football, I knew that I wanted to continue in the game; it's something that I have been preparing for over the last few years."
Moyes added: "I have known and worked with Philip for eight years and in that time I have come to know his dedication, ability to lead and appetite for hard work. He [also] understands the club very well."
Apart from Rooney, what are the biggest issues facing David Moyes? Click here to find out.
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