Rooney is intent on leaving due to the breakdown in his relationship with the club and, despite their position that he is not for sale, there has been a sense on the pre-season tour that, if a like-for-like replacement was bought, this could shift United's stance. However, the club will not change their view that Rooney is not for sale.
David Moyes will also wait until Marouane Fellaini's buy-out clause expires on 31 July before deciding whether to move for him and the manager is hopeful of striking a better deal than the £23m currently required to prise him from Everton. Whether the Scot decides to move for the Belgian may hinge on the success of his pursuit of Fábregas, with Moyes describing negotiations as "ongoing" on Thursday.
Regarding Rooney, the caveat is that, if Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo or Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale could be recruited, then United's transfer strategy – including the position of Rooney – could change. However, given the firm view that the chances of either player moving to Old Trafford this summer are remote, this eventuality appears unlikely.
How long Chelsea will continue their pursuit of Rooney remains to be seen, after they had a £20m bid rejected last week. Moyes is particularly minded not to sell to a title rival, especially one strengthened by the return of José Mourinho as manager. On Wednesday United upped the stakes in the fight to keep Rooney by tweeting a picture of the striker over the legend "BACK, Stockholm, 6.8.13" to underline that he is not for sale. The forward has been pencilled in for a return on that date in a pre-season friendly against AIK despite his intention to leave.
Speaking in Osaka on United's pre-season tour, Moyes confirmed that Rooney continues to make good progress following his hamstring injury. "Wayne Rooney is running and is probably at the level we would have thought he would be," the manager said. "He has picked up his work again this week."
After Roberto Martínez, the Everton manager, stated that United are yet to bid for Fellaini, Moyes continues to weigh up whether the Belgian is suited to his plans for the team. Sources close to the 25-year-old have confirmed that negotiations can begin after 31 July and Moyes believes that £23m is too high a price for a player not yet proven at the highest level. While Moyes is also aware that the market for Fellaini is small, Everton would be bound to try to demand a higher fee than that.
Ideally Moyes wants two midfielders and, if Fábregas was to be bought, he would then consider if Fellaini could complement the Spaniard, plus Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley, the established players in the position already in his squad. The manager's statement that the strategy to buy Fábregas is "ongoing" underlined that the 26-year-old is his prime focus and other transfer business secondary.
Regarding Fellaini and Leighton Baines, for whom United had a £12m bid rejected earlier this summer, Martínez said there had been no recent firm interest in either player. "Not at all. I know that is not something you want to hear but it is clearly what has been [the case] in the last two weeks," he said. "All I'm focusing on is working day to day, seeing players fighting to get in the starting team in August. That's the only focus that I have.
"Any speculation from the outside is just speculation and a compliment to the players and the football club. There's nothing we have to tell our fans. The last concern I have is what the other clubs do."
Robin van Persie will feature in United's tour match against Cerezo Osaka on Friday evening, after being taken off as a precaution during Tuesday's 3-2 defeat to Yokohama F-Marinos due to tightness in his thigh. "It was just a precaution," said Moyes. "I expect he will play." While Moyes confirmed that Carrick's groin problem is improving but he may not feature, other members of the squad who have sustained injuries continue to recover. "There was a practice match at the training ground the other day in which Nemanja Vidic, Antonio Valencia and Nani all got some playing time," he said.
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