Wenger rules out Arsenal bid for Rooney

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has ruled out a bid for the England striker Wayne Rooney but admitted London rivals Chelsea could lure the teenager to Stamford Bridge.

Rooney's form at Euro 2004 has seen his value rocket, prompting the Everton chairman, Bill Kenwright, to say he is now worth £50m after the 18-year-old striker's sparkling displays for England. "David Moyes [the Everton manager] and I agreed Wayne has to be a £50m player now," Kenwright said.

"We do smile about what Wayne is worth but, then again, we also talk about who's going to be alongside him with us next season. I would turn down any bid for him and say: 'Thank you very much, what else do you want to talk about?'"

It is thought, however, that Everton, who are over £30m in debt, would have to sell if such an attractive offer were to come in, but despite praising Rooney's talent, Wenger insists Arsenal will not be in the hunt for his signature this summer. "Wayne has been a revelation at Euro 2004 for people who don't work in English football," he said.

"I said a long time ago he would be one of the best and he's confirming that now. We'll have to wait and see how far he goes.

"If a team really want him then he could go for £30m. Chelsea could do it but that's a very high price to pay for any club in the world. But when I see a player I don't see a number, it's not how many millions he's worth.

"At Arsenal we have the strikers we need and are not in the market for him. I don't know if Everton will keep him - if you are a big club then you want to keep your best players."

However, the Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy would love to see Rooney team up with him at Old Trafford. Van Nistelrooy is leading the Netherlands attack at Euro 2004 in Portugal as Rooney is for England.

United have been linked with a move for Rooney, and Van Nistelrooy is a big fan of the teenager. "He is a phenomenal talent and the prospect of him pulling on a United shirt is frightening," Van Nistelrooy said.

"I don't know many clubs that wouldn't want him in their side," the Dutch striker added. "He is an incredible player. And if he does become available, Manchester United should do everything in their power to sign him. It certainly excites me to think he could be playing at United next season.

"Anyone who has seen him play knows what a talent he is. Nothing seems to worry him."

Meanwhile Wenger believes England face a tough 90 minutes tonight when they meet Croatia.

"Croatia will be a very difficult game for England," he said. "France were lucky to draw against Croatia and I was surprised by their technical and physical ability. It will be a lot harder for England than most people think."