Wayne Rooney's future at Manchester United was unceremoniously thrown into doubt on Tuesday morning after Jose Mourinho ruled out playing him in midfield next season.
The 30-year-old had adopted the role towards the end of last season under Louis van Gaal and for England during their European Championship campaign. He experienced varying degrees of success but he seemed keen to make the transition a permanent one.
“I’ve moved back and played in midfield for the last few months at United and it’s a natural way of football,” Rooney said last month. “It happens. I feel, with my football intelligence, I can play there and I can further my career as well.”
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Mourinho could not have disagreed more, saying in his opening press conference: “Maybe he is not a striker anymore. He will never be somebody playing 50 metres from the goal. You can tell me his passing is amazing. Yes, his passing is amazing but my passing is also amazing without pressure. For me, he will be a nine or a 10 – a nine and a half maybe – but not a six and not even an eight.”
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic now vying for a place up front, pundits took Mourinho's comments to mean that Rooney is facing a fight for his career and could potentially consider an exit after 12 years at Old Trafford.
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However, according to the Guardian's Jamie Jackson, Rooney is happy to play wherever Mourinho needs him whether that be in midfield, up front or perhaps even on the bench.
The England captain is currently on holiday following a disappointing exit from Euro 2016 but has held talks with Mourinho regarding his role and is satisfied with his future plans. It appears that Rooney is set to play in a No.10 role behind a forward three of Anthony Martial, Ibrahimovic and Rashford.
While Roy Hodgson was an advocate of Rooney playing in midfield, his goal-scoring pedigree is almost unparalleled. With 245 goals for Manchester United, he sits just four behind Sir Bobby Charlton's all-time record and will almost certainly surpass it next season. He has already acquired Charlton's record for England.
Mourinho appeared to put Rooney down in his press conference, but the Portuguese is apparently under no illusions in private. He has told the striker that he will be the club captain next season, continuing the role he was first handed by Louis van Gaal two years ago when Nemanja Vidic left.
That suggests that Rooney is going absolutely nowhere for the foreseeable future, which is just the way most fans want it.
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