Rooney refuses to sign new contract at United

Striker upset by lack of investment and broken relationship with Ferguson

Wayne Rooney has thrown Manchester United's difficult season into turmoil by telling the club that he does not want to renew his contract.

Rooney's decision appears to have stemmed largely from his growing sense of disillusion about the levels of investment at United and his feeling that players of the calibre of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville are not being adequately replaced. Sir Alex Ferguson's claims that United can flourish by developing young players and that there is "no value" in the transfer market have seemed increasingly tenuous during the team's poor start to the season.

A United spokesman said yesterday that claims Rooney was unwilling to sign a deal were "nonsense". But Rooney has 20 months to run on his current £80,000-a-week contract, becoming a free agent in June 2012, and it does seems that he has made the club aware in the past week that he does not intend to sign a new one. The new deal was expected to take his salary to around £150,000-a week, though it is understood that he has told friends that the offer is not as good as he would like. With players such as Yaya Touré arriving at Manchester City on huge sums, even the figure United are offering seem less appealing. The allure of City to players at the top of the game cannot be underestimated and they are one of the few clubs who could pay £70m for Rooney.

These factors seem more significant than the 24-year-old's relationship with Ferguson, though that has undoubtedly been affected by his decision to drop the striker from his starting side in four games this season. Rooney made a direct challenge to Ferguson's authority after England's match with Montenegro last Tuesday – breaking with his usual resistance to speak to daily newspaper journalists and immediately contradicting Ferguson’s claim that he had been dropped from two games because of an ankle injury. He started on the bench for Saturday’s draw with West Bromwich Albion.

The prospect of Rooney leaving as early as January seems highly unlikely, since the lack of movement at that time of year would limit the amount that the club could command for him, but a departure next summer now seems a strong probability unless he can be talked around. He has always said he will play in England for his entire footballing life and his seeming willingness to leave Old Trafford – which must be tempered by the possibility that this development is part of a negotiating ploy – raises the question of which other clubs he would leave for. It is understood that his North-west family ties are an important part of the consideration at a time when he is attempting to repair his damaged marriage. Though City are the obvious possibility, they also have a huge task in bringing down their £133m wages bill down over the next two years to prevent Uefa banning them from European competition under new Financial Fair Play regulations. Chelsea have reined in their spending for the same reason.

The news contributes to the sense of Rooney’s world descending into one of chaos, since his desperately disappointing World Cup, which was followed by revelations two months ago about his relationship with prostitute Jennifer Thompson. Ferguson has himself retrenched into a position of alienation with the press, having cancelled the last three of his usual Friday press conferences. The official reason given has been his unhappiness at the reporting of his claim that Fernando Torres dived in United’s 3-2 home win with Liverpool. But he may be feeling on the defensive about his most troubled player, who has not scored in open play for United for seven months. Oddly, Sky Sports did not ask Ferguson the obvious question about Rooney’s omission on Saturday evening.

Rooney’s reluctance to negotiate a newdeal puts United and owners the Glazer family in a hugely delicate position. Though the £80m sum Rooney would probably bring in would bewelcomed by a club with a £720m debt to service, the non-replacement ofanother totemic player after Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit last year could reduce the overall value of the club.

It is also hard to see how United could develop without Rooney’s services, despite his current drop in form. In short, the striker has the potential to cause the unravelling of the club’s highly leveraged business structure.

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on pottermore site this morning

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would
tv

Charlie Sheen could be set to revive his role as a hedonistic womaniser

Life and Style
Jamie Oliver’s version of Jollof rice led thousands of people to post angry comments on his website
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes