LONDON: Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney is ready to move on after a bit-part likely farewell in Wednesday’s Europa League Final victory over Ajax Amsterdam.
The 31-year-old is the record goalscorer for club and country but his status has been declining at a rapid rate over the past year and the end could be in sight on both fronts.
England manager Gareth Southgate omitted Rooney for the forthcoming World Cup qualifier against Scotland and the subsequent friendly in France.
Southgate inherited Rooney as Three Lions captain but, in the space of just a few months, has eased him out of the starting XI, abolished his status as permanent skipper and left him out of successive get togethers, including Thursday’s 25-man panel.
Wednesday night saw Rooney lift a third trophy of the season after United beat Ajax 2-0 in the Europa League final, but his introduction as a late substitute underlines how his status has changed.
Talk over his Old Trafford future has built throughout the season, leading him to release a statement in February confirming he would be staying despite interest from China.
But with the season now over, Rooney has to decide whether he is comfortable with his role at United.
“Honestly, I’ve said before, I don’t know,” the United skipper said when asked if he would still be at the club next term.
“I’ve got decisions to make now over the next few weeks, have a word with my family, and then I’ll decide. I think I just have to make a decision in terms of a football decision, and that’s what I’ll do.
“I’ll do that the next few weeks with my family while I’m away and, honestly, as soon as I know what’s going on then, I’m sure you (will know).”
Rooney says “there’s lots of offers on the table, both in England and abroad” but ruled out playing for any Premier League sides other than United or boyhood club Everton.
Pushed on whether he had decided what to do, the United captain said with a smile: “More or less, yeah.”
Asked if he wanted to share his decision, Rooney said with a laugh “no”.
The United captain does not feel the need to speak to Mourinho before rubber-stamping his decision as “the manager said before he wants me to stay”.
Rooney’s respect for the Portuguese is clear, as is his frustration at a lack of game time.
Quick to reiterate that he has “never once sulked” or dropped his head, the lack of football grates on a player who believes he has “qualities that can help the team”.
“Of course you want to play,” Rooney said. “You want to be on the pitch, of course.
“I think a younger me would have been a lot more frustrated. I think I understand what’s right and what’s needed for the club, and I respect that.
“Obviously happy to be part of that and in some way help the club win trophies, and that’s the way it’s been over the last 18 months, last year, and that’s a decision I have to make now, whether I want to continue doing that or go on and play more regular football.”
If he goes, Rooney expects to be foregoing more medals given United have found in Mourinho “the right man to lead them”.
“We needed to win trophies,” Rooney said, having added the Europa League to this season’s EFL Cup and Community Shield triumphs.
“To be honest, over the last few years, if you’d have said we’ve won four trophies in the last two years, then you would have thought ‘where are those trophies going to come from?’
“But we’ve done that, we’ve managed to do that, and I feel we’re progressing as a team and a club. And I’m sure there’ll be many more.”