Rooney’s former England teammates back Manchester United exit

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand and ex-Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard have given their backing to Wayne Rooney ahead of a potential Old Trafford departure.

The 31-year-old’s future at the Red Devils has been in doubt all season after it was made clear that he is not first-team choice for manager Jose Mourinho.

Rooney has been a huge figure for United over the past 13 years, helping the club to five Premier League titles and the Champions League crown in 2008.

The former Everton star has made 549 appearances for the Red Devils and has netted 250 goals, making him the club’s all-time leading scorer.

He has had a bit-part role this season, though, starting just eight league games and Mourinho revealed on Tuesday that he cannot guarantee that Rooney will still be a United player at the end of the season.

The forward could leave United within the next week as the transfer window for the Chinese Super League does not close until the end of February.

Ferdinand, who played alongside Rooney for 10 years at United, believes that his former teammate will seriously be considering his future.

The retired defender told BT Sport:

“At the end of the day he wants to play football and he’s a good professional, he won’t want to sit on the bench – that will be hurting him. He’s got pride, he’s got ego, he’ll be someone who wants to get out there playing constantly and if he can’t do it at Manchester United I’m sure he’ll put his hands up and say ‘I’m maybe not good enough for Manchester United anymore, maybe I’ll go on to pastures new’.”

Gerrard played against Rooney numerous times when he donned the red of Liverpool, but he also played with the forward on England duty.

The retired midfielder is well aware of the predicament facing Rooney as he himself decided to leave Liverpool in 2015 after losing a regular starting spot.

“I put myself in Wayne’s shoes, I’ve been in that position where you become a squad player and it’s not the same, you don’t enjoy it as much and I know how much Wayne loves playing.

“I don’t know exactly what Wayne’s thinking or where he’s going to playing but I don’t blame him if he goes and wants to start for a team on a weekly basis rather than being a squad player.”