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UK speculation over Rooney move to China increases after manager's remarks

By Angus McNeice in London | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-02-23 00:47

British media speculation surrounding a possible transfer of Manchester United and England skipper Wayne Rooney increased as United manager Jose Mourinho said he would leave the decision up to the player if he chose to head for a Chinese Super League club before the Chinese transfer window slams shut next Tuesday.

UK speculation over Rooney move to China increases after manager's remarks

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney is seen in this file photo.  [Photo/Agencies]

At a news conference early this week, Mourinho said he was leaving the decision up to Rooney, doubling down on a statement made in January that he would not stand in the player's way.

"You have to ask him. Of course, I can't guarantee (he will stay),"Mourinho said at a news conference on Tuesday. "What I can guarantee is that if one day Wayne leaves the club, it is not because I want him to leave the club. I would never push a legend of this club to another destiny.”

The 31-year-old England international, Manchester United's leading goal-scorer of all time, has become increasingly marginalized at United, having started just three of the club's 12 fixtures this year, leading several Chinese clubs to believe the player could be tempted by a big money offer.

Media reports claim a move to China could see Rooney more than double his current 300,000 pound ($374,000) weekly wage and earn 32 million pounds ($40 million) annually. Both Beijing Sinobo Guoan and Guangzhou Evergrande are linked with England's all-time top scorer, while on Wednesday, Tianjin Quanjian manager Fabio Cannavaro confirmed the club made an approach for the player but it was rejected.

Beijing Sinobo Guoan attempted to lure Rooney to China before. In November, the club's honorary chairman Luo Ning confirmed team representatives met with Rooney's agent Paul Stretford in the summer of 2016.

"We indeed made an approach for Rooney at the beginning of the season but he's informed us that he wants to stay in Manchester United,"Luo Ning told Beijing broadcaster Sports Night Talks. "Rooney says he'll keep playing in the Premier League as long as his health allows. We even met with his agent.”

Should he leave United, Rooney would join a growing number of high profile soccer players opting to play in China. In January, Argentine striker Carlos Tevez moved to Shanghai Shenhua where he earns a reported 615,000 pound ($766,000) weekly wage, while Shanghai SIPG bought Brazil star Oscar in a 60 million pound ($74.7 million) transfer.

Following these large deals, a spokesperson for China's General Administration of Sport said the governing sports body is considering a cap on spending to stop clubs "burning money"to entice elite players to the CSL.

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