Transfer news: Real Madrid ready swoop for Wayne Rooney as Manchester United plan to sell second tier future to players

Club must figure out how to keep their best players if they miss out on next season's Champions League

Manchester United are already preparing how they will attempt to persuade their elite players to stay for a Europa League future next season, as Real Madrid threaten to capitalise on Wayne Rooney's desire to be in the Champions League by poaching him this summer.

United, whose difficult transition under David Moyes leaves them six points off the Champions League places in the Premier League, face a struggle to avoid the loss of Rooney, Robin van Persie and David de Gea if they do drop out of the elite competition.

They will seek to sell an Old Trafford future to them, by telling them that they can be the generation of heroes who can help rebuild a global institution and take it straight back into the elite. Rooney and others will also be reminded that many of the great clubs miss out on the Champions League every now and then, but do not stay outside of it for long. Bayern Munich fell out in 2006-07 but got straight back in. Juventus and Barcelona have also been out of the competition in the last 15 years. A finish outside the top four will be characterised as a "once in a lifetime" event, which after a brief period of transition will be in the past.

Rooney, who remains a week off match fitness, may be the hardest player to persuade, with Real's reasons for wanting him to move both detailed and logical. The Spanish side had made Sergio Aguero their top target for the summer but, with Manchester City increasingly confident that the Argentine will not leave, the prime back-up options are understood to be Rooney and Radamel Falcao.

Rooney's ability both to play off the striker and operate up front makes him a huge attraction to the Spanish club, who have only Karim Benzema – contracted until 2015 – as a senior experienced striker.

The possibility of signing Falcao from Monaco would carry no obstacles for Real, since the Colombian is thought to want a higher standard of football than the French league provides. But Florentino Perez, the Real president, is thought to be a long-time admirer of Rooney. The Englishman would also be cheaper than Falcao.

United, who have been unwilling to contemplate the notion of Juan Mata's Old Trafford move being contingent on Rooney heading to Stamford Bridge, insist their striker is not for sale.

In the event of United needing to reclaim Champions League status next season, they may be prepared to allow his contract to run down and take the hit on losing him for a minimal sum in 2015. In that sense, the way United's owners, the Glazers, decide to play the Rooney situation will be an acid test of how intent they are on putting the club before cash.

The cost of falling into the Europa League is likely to have a large impact on United in the transfer market, as Moyes seeks to rebuild this summer. Manchester City proved that players can be signed in those circumstances because in the summer of 2010, after being pipped by Tottenham Hotspur to the Champions League, they secured Yaya Touré, David Silva and Mario Balotelli.

Selling the idea of joining United, with their huge global appeal, will be easier for Moyes and his chief executive, Ed Woodward, than it was for Roberto Mancini at City back then. But luring top targets may entail a greater outlay on wages. Since United's wage bill is higher than Chelsea's and the club's stars can secure higher incomes than City's if commercial spin-offs are accounted for, United believe they can persuade players to join them if they do slip out of the elite.

In the short term, the prospect of being able to pick Rooney and van Persie – the two players on whom United's top four status is contingent – still seems a way off for Moyes. Neither is understood to have trained today, despite the United manger claiming last Friday that vsan Persie would be on the Carrington grass for the first time since undergoing work to resolve a thigh complaint. Rooney has a slim chance of being back in the United side to face Cardiff City at Old Trafford next Tuesday, but the trip to Stoke City on 1 February is the most likely return date for him and van Persie.

Rooney has started only one Premier League game this calendar year and the fact that it always takes him several games to hit his stride after returning means Moyes will need him back at Stoke in preparation for the visit to Arsenal 11 days later. That is the start of a 31-day period in which United also face both City and Liverpool. Chelsea's willingness to negotiate around a United bid for Mata, which is understood to be £10m more than any other club has offered, suggests that they do not consider them to be a threat to their aims on the title.

The agent of Bayern Munich defender Dante has denied the player has signed for United but admitted Old Trafford scouts have watched him.

 

Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders