After starting Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Real Madrid on the bench, Wayne Rooney continues to be the dominant subject of transfer speculation across Britain’s newspapers.
The perception is that Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to leave Rooney out of his starting lineup signifies that the United manager is willing to sell the England forward in the summer. The Daily Mail claims that Ferguson has doubts about Rooney’s fitness and attitude and would be tempted to allow the 27-year-old to leave if a bid of more than £20 million were to arrive.
According to the Mail’s sources, the relationship with player and manager has been less than ideal for some time.
Rooney came out publicly with his desire to leave Old Trafford back in 2010, claiming that the club was failing to match his ambitions. Ferguson was credited for persuading Rooney to stay with a mammoth contract worth a reported £250,000 a week, but it is thought that the veteran boss has never forgotten the player’s slight of both him and the club.
There are few clubs that could afford Rooney, though, with the Guardian reporting that Manchester City are not interested in reviving the interest they had before Rooney renewed his deal. Paris Saint-Germain have been suggested as the likeliest destination.
In other speculation, Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic has again tried to play down talk of a summer move. Manchester United have been strongly linked to the Bosnia international, particularly after Stoke signed England goalkeeper Jack Butland in January.
Despite conceding that he is flattered by the reported interest, the 25-year-old has said that he is focused on the remainder of the season.
"I must confess it is nice to hear these things,” he said, according to Sky Sports. “It is always nice to hear what others are saying, it means that you are doing a good job.”
"But I have no time to think about this. My only concern is Stoke City as I want to be as good as I can be for my club, and for my national team.
"So quite simply, I really don't have any time to think about a move or anything else."
Benfica defender Ezequiel Garay has also been named as a summer target for Manchester United. With Rio Ferdinand yet to renew his contract to keep him at the club past this summer and Nemanja Vidic impacted by injury, a new center-back could well be on Ferguson’s agenda.
Argentina international Garay has been named as a primary target, with a potential £15 million transfer mooted.
Metro now claims that United have asked Benfica outright how much they want for the 26-year-old, former Real Madrid man.
Finally, young Danish forward Andreas Cornelius has been commenting on reports linking him with transfers to both Manchester United and Arsenal. Still only 19 years old, Cornelius is the Danish Super League’s top scorer this season with 14 goals in 21 appearances and has already represented his country at senior level.
Cornelius, though, is in no rush for a big move.
"I think that the Premier League is the best league in the world and I would love to play there,” he said, according to Sky Sports.
"It would be like a dream coming true. But there is still a long way and I still have plenty to learn.
"I have a contract with Copenhagen for the next four years so that seems like a good time frame for me, although things change quickly in football so you never know."