Despite having retained the captain's arm band and a spot in Jose Mourinho's starting XI so far this season, Wayne Rooney's future at Manchester United might not be as certain as he thinks.
That's according to a report from The Sun's Daniel Cutts who, citing a source within the Old Trafford club, claims Mourinho and the Red Devils hierarchy are seriously considering trying to sell the England forward at the end of this season.
And it looks like the club has even already identified exactly they want to replace the 30-year-old. Somewhat surprisingly considering Mourinho's apparent desire to sign Antoine Griezmann in the near future, it isn't the Atletico Madrid star.
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“Rooney’s recent comments about wanting to extend his contract certainly pricked a few ears," a source at Old Trafford told The Sun.
“There are people inside the club who feel it could be their last and only shot to avoid him staying another year and then entering his final 12 months.”
Despite his decline in form, Rooney's would still need to be quickly replaced. And the name United officials have earmarked to take up his spot in the changing room would certainly make a big splash - Real Madrid's Gareth Bale.
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Even if they were able to recoup a decent transfer fee for Rooney in 2017, they'd have to dip into their vast wealth to lure Bale to Old Trafford. In all likelihood, it would mean breaking the world transfer record for a second straight year.
And, if they are serious about tempting Bale to Manchester, it would also surely rule out any 2017 move for Griezmann considering the current asking price for the Frenchman.
As for Rooney, with criticism about his performances intensifying and the likes of Marcus Rashford continuing to impress, it looks like the 30-year-old's own recent actions have actually been the catalyst for United reassessing their commitment.
Rooney's current United deal expires in two years time and his agent has already spoken about him wanting to finish his career at the club.
However, with goals at a premium, younger stars waiting in the wings and a hefty £300,000 heading his way each week, United don't appear too keen to fulfil his wishes.
With the likes of Rashford and Anthony Martial waiting in the wings, the writing may be on the wall unless he starts banging in the goals for Mourinho on a regular basis.
"Unless he starts scoring 30 goals a season again," the source explained, "...then his huge wages are bringing a sharper focus to his long-term situation.”
Even Rooney's fiercest critics have to admire what he has done at United since arriving in 2004. He has racked up 179 goals in 372 appearances for the club en route to winning five Premier League titles.
Now, though, with his talents on the slide, the Manchester club are ready to be ruthless as they look to regain their place amongst football's elite.
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