Jose Mourinho says that he will “never” sell Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney.
Rooney has struggled so far this season, scoring just one goal and assisting a further five in 12 games in all competitions.
Manager Mourinho even took the unprecedented step of benching the club captain for four consecutive games earlier in the campaign, as the 31-year-old has failed to find positive form.
Rooney missed the 4-0 defeat to Chelsea on Sunday, having been omitted from the squad due to injury.
In an interview with Sky Sports before the game, Mourinho insisted he would “never” sell the striker.
“I will never make that decision,” he said. “A player of his stature, a player of his history in the club will never go to point where club or manager want to make that decision for him.
“I put him [Rooney] on the bench for three matches in a row. That is hard for him, hard for me, so that is being ruthless, to put in my mind the interests of the team in front of the player, prestige, status. In this case even legend. To put on the bench a player with the numbers he has for club and country is hard.
“But as we were saying before, this is an industry where the people who lead, sometimes in a correct decision, sometimes not correct decisions, but in our mind the decisions we think is the best for the team.”
The Portuguese added that Rooney may be confused over his playing position for club and country.
He added: “I think it then created a bit of a doubt in relation to his role, to his position, to his future and I think players especially in moments of less confidence, they need to be clear in his head.
“He cannot be jumping from No 6 to No 9, or No 9 to No 10, or No 9 to No 6. For me, he is an attacking player. What is an attacking player for me? For him, a 9 or 10.
“Play No 6, play in midfield, not with me unless we need it and unless we ask him to do that, but with me, I want the ideas completely clear. He is a second striker, plays behind the striker or as a striker. That’s what I think is Wayne Rooney.”
Rooney has scored 246 goals in 532 appearances for Manchester United since joining them from Everton in 2004.