Wayne Rooney has announced he is staying with Manchester United following persistent speculation he was about to make a lucrative US$1.25 million a week move to the Chinese Super League.
Such a move would have made Rooney the world’s best paid player. His agent, Paul Stretford, traveled to China this week to speak to interested clubs but, after the talks, the United and England captain released a statement to insist he was remaining at Old Trafford.
“Despite the interest which has been shown from other clubs, for which I’m grateful, I want to end recent speculation and say that I am staying at Manchester United,” the 31-year-old Rooney said in a statement released on Thursday to Britain’s Press Association.
“I hope I will play a full part in helping the team in its fight for success on four fronts.
“It’s an exciting time at the club and I want to remain a part of it.”
Chinese clubs said to be interested in Rooney, United’s all-time leading scorer, included Guangzhou Evergrande, Beijing Guoan, Jiangsu Suning and Tianjin Quanjian and speculation over the experienced forward’s future has intensified in recent weeks with Rooney, whose current United contract runs until mid-2018, often sidelined by manager Jose Mourinho.
Rooney’s deal at Old Trafford runs until mid-2018, with United holding the option to extend it by a further year.
Rooney has won five Premier League titles and a Champions League trophy since joining as an 18-year-old for £27m from Everton in 2004.
A return to boyhood club Everton or a move to US Major League Soccer could have been other possible avenues for Rooney but both were unlikely to offer wages anywhere near that available in China.
Former United team-mate Carlos Tevez, ex-Chelsea midfielder Oscar and former Watford striker Odion Ighalo are among those to have recently made big-money moves to the Far East.
However, a switch to China could have brought Rooney’s England career to an abrupt end. Rooney has already announced plans to retire from international football after the next year’s World Cup in Russia.
He is the already the country’s all-time top scorer has won 119 caps and is closing in on Peter Shilton’s record of 125 appearances and has made clear his intention to play in one more major international tournament.