Manchester City have no desire to revive their interest in Wayne Rooney despite the uncertainty over his future at Manchester United, with the player's reputed £300,000-a-week salary pricing them out of the market.
City came close to signing the forward in October 2010 when Rooney agitated for a move away from Old Trafford, claiming the club lacked ambition.
But despite the wealth at City, they are not prepared to match the salary which, with add-ons, is believed to be around £300,000 a week. Since the collapse of the proposed deal more than two years ago, Uefa's financial fair play regulations have been introduced and, with City's intent to adhere to these, they would have to free up a sizeable chunk of their player wage bill to be able to offer Rooney similar terms.
City, along with a handful of other clubs, have been alerted to Rooney's possible availability following Sir Alex Ferguson's decision not to select the player in his starting XI for the Champions League game against Real Madrid on Tuesday night, United's biggest match of the season.
Instead the manager preferred Ryan Giggs, who is 12 years older than the 27-year-old Rooney, for the wide-right berth in which the England international operated during last month's 1-1 draw in the first leg at the Bernabéu. Ferguson might also have fielded Rooney behind the lone striker, Robin van Persie, which is his regular position for the club, but chose Danny Welbeck there.
Where Rooney could move to beyond City is limited due to his pay demands and the small number of elite clubs he would wish to play for.
Real Madrid and Barcelona may question his quality to perform at the very highest level, and he appears a different kind of player to that which Pep Guardiola, the former Barcelona coach who takes over at Bayern Munich in the summer, usually favours. As Milan, Juventus and Internazionale would struggle to finance any deal, this leaves Paris Saint-Germain, who have the requisite monies and are searching for a forward to complement Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Michael Owen, who played with Rooney for three seasons at United before leaving in the summer, told TalkSport: "Sometimes when you're at the level he is at you don't have many options. If you're a mediocre player you have 20 teams in England and aboard 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."
Owen believes Rooney being left out against Real was a severe blow. "A couple of years ago, if Wayne wasn't the first-choice striker, he [Ferguson] would have played him in left midfield or in behind the striker. For him not to start is a real kick in the teeth. Obviously Wayne has got to get his head down now and start recapturing his best form.
"He'll either get his head down, try and improve and force his way back into the team, or he'll think: 'The manager has not picked me for the biggest game, he obviously doesn't fancy me.' And it might be the end of the story."
During Rooney's near departure three years ago he questioned United's ambition and the "continued ability of the club to attract the top players in the world".
Ferguson was not impressed that Rooney had voiced these fears publicly. Yet Owen denied ever seeing any differences between them. "When I was at Manchester United their relationship was very good, they talked, shared jokes and there were no problems whatsoever," he said. "I'd be surprised if it was something of that nature [a falling-out] but the decision to leave him out isn't going to help if it is that."
United's exit at the last-16 stage still secures them £34m from Uefa but if they had reached the final in May that would have risen to £56m.
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image: © Audrey Pilato