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Dublin: 8°C Wednesday 24 February 2021

Has Wayne Rooney already played his last competitive game at Old Trafford?

Jose Mourinho has confirmed it’s unlikely the 31-year-old will feature against Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Image: Martin Rickett

WITH WAYNE ROONEY having played the full ninety minutes in the scoreless draw with Southampton earlier this week, attention quickly turned to whether the 31-year-old may have already played his last ever game at Old Trafford.

With Jose Mourinho keen to keep all of his senior players fresh for next Wednesday’s Europa League final against Ajax, it seemed unlikely Rooney would be called upon to be involved in three games across just seven days.

And speaking at his press conference earlier today, Mourinho confirmed that the striker will probably sit out Sunday’s clash with Crystal Palace.

“We will bring 3-4 of the first-team players on Sunday, one half for each one, to give a bit of experience for each and save them all for Wednesday,” he said.

But I don’t know about Wayne. He played 90 minutes in the last game [against Southampton], so probably not.”

With Rooney playing a bit-part in United’s season, scoring just eight times in all competitions, it seems increasingly likely that he will move elsewhere this summer.

He had the chance to join a Chinese Super League team back in February but chose to remain in Manchester and fight for his place. At the time, he felt confident that he could even stay at United until his current contract expired in 2019.

Hull City v Manchester United - EFL Cup - Semi Final - Second Leg - KCOM Stadium Rooney has had to grow accustomed to a bit-part role at Man United under Jose Mourinho. Source: Mike Egerton

But, such an outlook now appears quite optimistic.

Even with a season-ending injury to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Rooney has rarely been handed an opportunity to feature up front. Instead, his cameos have come more regularly in midfield.

Publicly, Rooney has attempted to reiterate his desire to stay but the message hasn’t exactly been very clear. At a recent press conference, he was asked if he wanted to remain a Manchester United player.

I’ve been at this club for 13 years. Of course. I want to play football.”

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And therein lies the problem. Rooney has not been playing enough football and he’s far too proud and successful to stay rooted on the bench for longer than he has to.

Major League Soccer remains an option with new Los Angeles franchise LAFC beginning in MLS in March 2018. A move to North America would probably appeal more to Rooney but the Chinese Super League certainly can’t be ignored.

Manchester United v Wigan Athletic - Emirates FA Cup - Fourth Round - Old Trafford Source: Martin Rickett

It certainly seems a good time to bow out of the club. He broke Bobby Charlton’s long-standing goalscoring record earlier in the season and may end the campaign as a Europa League champion.

But, should he go in the summer, it means his last game at Old Trafford was the fraught 1-1 semi-final second-leg against Celta Vigo in which he had an eight-minute cameo.

After such a glittering time at the club, it surely wasn’t the farewell he or the United fans would’ve wished for.

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About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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