In Depth

Rooney set for Man United exit - but can anyone afford him?

Striker is out of favour at Old Trafford and could be sold for around £20m in the summer

WAYNE ROONEY could be on his way out of Manchester United after being dropped for the Champions League game against Real Madrid on Tuesday.

The Independent described the match as "one of United's half-dozen biggest games of the past decade" and said the striker's omission from the starting line-up appeared to confirm the belief that he has fallen out of favour with Alex Ferguson. With further concerns over his fitness, there is speculation in all today’s newspapers that Rooney could be sold this summer for as little as £20m.

The Times says that the England forward initially accepted the news that he had been left on the bench for the Madrid game in a professional manner, but after the 2-1 defeat expressed his "fury" to shocked team-mates.

"The 27-year-old is thought to be steeling himself for the prospect of a fate eerily similar to the one David Beckham experienced at Old Trafford a decade ago," adds the paper. Beckham was sold to Real Madrid in 2003 after falling out with Ferguson.

However, United might find it hard to offload the striker, who has two years left on his current contract. He signed the deal in 2010 after United's bitter rivals Manchester City tried to buy him for £40m.

United were desperate to keep hold of him at the time and designed a lucrative contract, said to be worth up to £300,000-a-week, to ward off other clubs. Now, says the Times, his wage demands mean "there are likely to be only a select number of clubs who could afford him".

The press are also agreed that Rooney is not the man he was back in 2010. "With the former Everton player approaching his 28th birthday in October, his age and salary have left sources within the game placing his market value as low as £20m," explains the Daily Telegraph.

Former England and United colleague Michael Owen told TalkSport that the player's standing limited his options.

"Sometimes when you're at the level he is at you don't have many options," said Owen. "If you're a mediocre player you have 20 teams in England and abroad that you can move to. If Wayne Rooney moves, where does he go to? Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Man City, Chelsea and PSG: there's only half a dozen teams. PSG is probably the best shout."

Certainly Manchester City do not appear interested. The Guardian reports that the club have been priced out of the market by Rooney's wage demands. Under Uefa's financial fair play regulations, City would have to free up a “sizeable chunk” of their player wage bill to be able to offer Rooney similar terms as in 2010, says the paper.

But unless United can find a buyer this summer they face the prospect of losing the player, who costs the club £12m-a-year, for a much smaller fee or even on a free transfer in 2015.

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