Wayne Rooney may still leave Manchester United, says Paul Hayward
Paul Hayward says Wayne Rooney could still leave Man United if he is asked to take a pay cut.
Last Updated: 17/03/13 1:25pm
Sir Alex Ferguson has strenuously denied reports that the England striker would be sold after he was left on the bench for the Champions League clash with Real Madrid last Tuesday.
But speaking on the Sunday Supplement, the Daily Telegraph's Chief Sports Writer says Rooney could be asked to take a pay cut and that could see him looking to leave.
His current deal, which expires in 2015, was infamously negotiated in 2010 when the player threatened to leave the club but Hayward says it's the club that has all the negotiating power this time around.
He said: "The point of Wayne Rooney's maximum power at Manchester United was October 2010 when there was every chance of him going to Manchester City,
"To stop that happening, the Glazers took him to the stratosphere of earners in English football on £200,000+ per week, but Rooney is never going to be that powerful again.
"There are some doubts at United about his ability to ever get to the level that he was going to; the level of Ronaldo and Messi.
"I don't think that's going to happen now. He's been playing for 11 years, he made his debut at 16, and if he was going to that absolute elite of world football then he would have done it by now.
"So what I'm saying is Rooney doesn't have the power that he had two or three years ago and Manchester United now have the power.
"I think they probably do intend to renew his contract, but it would be on reduced terms and are those reduced terms going to be acceptable to Rooney and his agent?
"If not, and they ask him to take a pay cut, then clearly they're going to put him in the market and see who's interested over the summer.
"I still think it's a possibility he'll leave."
Hayward also suggested that Rooney's level of fitness has caused concern at Old Trafford and is another reason why they may no longer value him as highly.
The player himself admitted he returned to pre-season training overweight last summer and Hayward hinted that may be another stumbling block in the talks over a new deal.
"There is an issue we can be inclined to tip-toe around, which is his physical condition," he added.
"There are times when Manchester United feel he lacks the physical conditioning to do the job they need him to do.
"I wouldn't want to speculate about that, but there is an issue there sometimes and that has sometimes cost him a place in the team."