Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney is reportedly a transfer target for Italian giants Inter Milan, while he is also attracting the attention of clubs in China.
Rooney has struggled to find his form this season and has been left out of the United starting lineup by manager Jose Mourinho in recent weeks.
And now his presence on the substitute’s bench has alerted other clubs to his potential availability in January. According to Calciomercato, (h/t Martin Domin for the Mirror), Inter are monitoring Rooney’s situation at Old Trafford ahead of a potential bid next summer.
Rooney has been off-colour for both club and country this season as debate continues to rage over where his best position is at this stage of his career.
At the start of his reign, Mourinho said he saw Rooney as an attacker rather than a midfielder, where he played many games under Louis van Gaal.
The Portuguese told Adam Marshall of the official United website, in August: “Maybe he is not a striker anymore, but he will never be a no.6 for me, he will never be someone playing 60 metres from the goal. … For me he will be a [number] 9, a 10, or a 9-and-a-half, but not a 6 or even an 8.”
Despite interest across the world and his lack of starting appearances, Mourinho recently revealed he could not envisage a moment when he would sell Rooney.
Speaking to Sky Sports News HQ, per Andy Charles, Mourinho said: “I will never make that decision. A player of his stature, a player of his history in the club will never go to the point where club or manager want to make that decision for him.”
Inter’s hopes of taking Rooney to Italy could depend on whether they are able to keep him out the clutches of Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG, who are planning a staggering £80 million deal for England’s record international goalscorer, as per Ben Burrows and Neil Moxley of the Mirror.
Shanghai are managed by his former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson, who would welcome the chance to reunite with Rooney.
Rooney’s displays have come under much scrutiny this season as Mourinho has preferred using Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the focal point of United’s attacking play.
His pace may have slightly diminished over the past couple of seasons, but his speed of thought and football intelligence has not. Indeed, if a goalscoring chance were presented to him, his quality remains such that you would still expect him to bury it.
It would represent a surprise if Mourinho pushed him out of the door unless Rooney himself decided it was time to wave goodbye and quit United.
After a career in the full glare of the media spotlight, it may be that the idea of a change of country could appeal to Rooney, and his style may now be better suited to Serie A rather than the hustle and bustle of the Premier League.