Manchester United will consider the sale of Wayne Rooney in the summer for a fee of around £35 million, ESPN understands.
An Old Trafford source said that any prospective transfer was dependent on a “complicated chain of events”, but one that could also see Cristiano Ronaldo end up back at the club.
With Rooney controversially demoted to the bench and the Portuguese not ruling out a return to United, Wednesday night’s Champions League clash between United and Real Madrid was dripping with transfer subplots.
It is known, however, that the Premier League leaders are actively looking into a way to bring Ronaldo back, and that there was more to Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to drop Rooney than tactics or any injury concerns.
The United manager is understood to have scolded the England international about his fitness at the start of the season – the latest of a number of flashpoints between them since Rooney attempted to force his way out in October 2010.
Despite the now famous photos of Ferguson and his player smiling after a new deal had been signed at that time, their relationship has never fully healed. They also clashed at Christmas 2011, with the manager reportedly dropping Rooney for a Premier League fixture against Blackburn Rovers for disciplinary reasons.
This season has also marked the first time in three years that Rooney has not been the undisputed focal point of the team, after the arrival of Robin van Persie.
In that time, however, United had informal talks with Real Madrid over the prospective transfer of Rooney, but the Spanish club have no wish to purchase him at present. So far, the only club to have expressed an interest are Paris Saint-Germain – as reported by the Times a week ago.
It is unknown, however, whether Rooney himself would want to go to the French capital or even leave United at all. As such, given that they would also have to find a high-profile replacement, United are treading carefully and his departure is by no means certain.
It had been floated that Rooney could be used in some kind of part-exchange deal for Ronaldo but, with Real not interested at present, United may seek to offer Nani and cash for the Portuguese star.
Although there is now a willingness on both sides – United and Ronaldo – to bring the forward back to Old Trafford, there are a number of complications – not least the financing of such a deal.
United, meanwhile, retain an interest in Borussia Dortmund’s Robert Lewandowski as a direct replacement for Rooney. The Poland forward is expected to join Bayern Munich, but that deal is far from done and the Red Devils are continuing to monitor the situation.