Chelsea and Manchester United are at loggerheads over the future of Wayne Rooney, with the London club issuing a statement to confirm they had bid for the player – and to deny that they had offered either David Luiz or Juan Mata as part of the deal.
In his press conference following Chelsea’s 1-0 win in Bangkok over the Singha All-Star XI, Jose Mourinho said that the club had made Rooney their absolute priority. Asked whether it was “Rooney or bust” in terms of their attempts to sign a new striker, Mourinho confirmed that was the case. He said his club had behaved “ethically”.
An hour before the game, which kicked off at 2pm British time, Chelsea took the unusual step of releasing a club statement in which they accused United of briefing reporters in Sydney, where the Premier league champions are currently based, that they had been offered either Mata or Luiz plus pnds10m for Rooney.
A spokesman for Chelsea said that “although the terms of the offer are confidential, for the avoidance of doubt, and contrary to what is apparently being briefed to press in Sydney the proposed purchase price [for Rooney] does not include the transfer or loan of any players from Chelsea to Manchester United.”
Privately, United are bemused by the suggestion that they had briefed there was a Mata and Luiz element to the offer. There was no United briefing in Sydney – on or off the record – to the effect that Chelsea players had been offered as part of a Rooney deal. A report to that effect was picked up by news outlets and gained momentum yesterday.
United are braced for a transfer request from Rooney, who has let it be known that he already considers the prospect of working with manager David Moyes as unwelcome as playing under Sir Alex Ferguson became.
After the match in Bangkok yesterday, which Chelsea won with a first half penalty from Romelu Lukaku, Mourinho said that he did not know whether the bid had been officially rejected yet. Although he would not confirm the size of the fee offered - “an economic bid of a certain amount” - it is understood to be around £20m. United’s current position is that Rooney is not for sale.
The United chief executive Ed Woodward left Sydney three days ahead of schedule and was said to be heading to Europe. That could be to discuss his club’s £26m bid for Cesc Fabregas, which Barcelona do not appear to have rejected. It could also give him the chance to schedule discussions with Rooney and his agent Paul Stretford over the slight the player perceives to have felt in newspaper interviews given by Moyes.
In what appeared like an attempt to calm the situation, Mourinho said that his club had “to respect Man United” and “my colleague David [Moyes]”. He said: “Nothing is a secret any more. Chelsea is interested in the player [Rooney]. Chelsea made an official bid. What we did we did do officially, between our club and Man United, and we have nothing more to say about it.”
“You have to respect Man United and you have to be ethical in this process. So no more problems. So from now, I don't say one more word about Wayne Rooney because you all know we want him, and not one more word about this situation. We made a bid and now it's up to Man United.”
Mourinho added: “We did what we had to do in a proper way, in an ethical way, and we're happy with our behaviour. It was clean. Now I keep doing what I'm doing, working with my players, trying to improve my players, and we'll see what happens. Now he's not with us. He's with Man United, not with us.”