Speculation surrounding Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney’s future has intensified, with reports suggesting that the 31-year-old could make a mega-money move to the Chinese Super League (CSL) as early as next week.
Though the Premier League winter transfer window closed on January 31, clubs in the CSL have until February 28 to complete purchases, ahead of their opening round of fixtures over the first weekend in March.
The Guardian, Daily Mirror, and others have linked Rooney with a move east, while Chinese clubs have encouraged the speculation. Tianjin Quanjian manager Fabio Cannavaro recently confirmed to Tianjin TV that the team made “an approach for Rooney but it was just a chat… he does not suit our style of play.”
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has also been non-committal over whether Rooney will stay. ESPN quoted him to have said: “I cannot guarantee that I’m here next week, how can I guarantee that a player is here next season?”
Rooney may be open to a transfer and would leave behind a legacy as Man United’s all-time top goalscorer, a Champions League winner, and five-time Premier League champion.
The Englishman has fallen down the striking pecking order due to the consistent form of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the ever-improving Marcus Rashford. His injury record combined with a return of five goals in 26 appearances have also hindered his ability to break into Mourinho’s first team.
Rooney’s salary at a CSL club would likely dwarf his current earnings in Manchester. He nets an estimated £200,000 (US$249,000) per week from United but a transfer to a cash-rich side in China could see him pocket up to £1 million per week (US$1.24 million), according to The Sun. It’s a deal that would see him eclipse Shanghai Shenhua striker Carlos Tevez as the best-paid footballer of all time.
The transfer would also benefit United as a high-earner would no longer be on their books, freeing up space in the summer budget for Mourinho’s own plans to bring in players. Reports have linked the club to versatile Benfica defender Victor Lindelof and Real Madrid pass master Toni Kroos.
The 5 best-paid footballers in China
1. Carlos Tevez, Shanghai Shenhua: £635,000 (US$791,000) per week
2. Oscar, Shanghai SIPG: £400,000 (US$498,000) per week
3. Graziano Pelle, Shandong Luneng Taishan FC: £290,000 (US$361,000) per week
4. Asamoah Gyan, Shanghai SIPG: £227,000 (US$283,000) per week
5. Ezequiel Lavezzi, Hebei China Fortune: £220,000 (US$274,000) per week
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