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Wayne Rooney says MLS owners 'taking advantage' of players through trading system

Wayne Rooney of D.C. United warms up before a game against the Philadelphia Union at Audi Field on August 4, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Wayne Rooney has called on Major League Soccer to revamp its trade and transfer system, saying owners take "advantage" of the setup which exploits American players.

The former Manchester United and England forward enjoyed a successful stint in MLS with DC United but admits he was shocked to learn about the transfer system in the States which can see clubs trade players without a great deal of transparency in the process.

Players within the setup can be traded to other clubs much like in other American sports leagues such as the NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB but, speaking to Perfect Soccer's Ask A Pro Show, hosted by former DC team-mate Quincy Amarikwa, Rooney questioned the setup which can see players uprooted to join another team.

D.C. United's Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring against Chicago Fire (USA Today/MLSsoccer)
Image: Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring against Chicago Fire

"I didn't realise it before, but obviously when I got there (MLS), I seen it," Rooney said. "My first week, we had a player who, when he finished training, he got told he was getting transferred onto somewhere else.

"I was like, 'Why? What's going on here? Where is he going? What's going on?' So, it's difficult. I spoke to Steve [Birnbaum, DC team-mate] a lot. I was like, 'Can he do that? Is it that easy to do? Is it that easy to actually move someone on?' There's no thought behind it in terms of this person might have a family, children…. a life here. They might get told, 'You know what? Move on'.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Wayne Rooney can manage Manchester United if he is willing to make the sacrifices needed to survive in the role.

"I know it works that way in basketball and in NFL, but those players get paid millions and millions of pounds. So, they can afford to actually do that, where MLS players can't. They probably get a small percentage of money which won't even cover the bills, won't even cover what they have to live on. It's wrong for that to happen.

"I think MLS needs to really look at that because, from seeing it, a lot of them owners are taking advantage of the league [structure], which is affecting American players."

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The 34-year-old scored 25 goals in 52 appearances for DC United before returning to England to join Derby as a player-coach.

Wayne Rooney
Image: Wayne Rooney joined Derby in January 2020

"It might benefit [others]. For me, I went there for 18 months, Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] was there for two years," Rooney said.

"We benefited from getting a good reputation in the USA, scoring a few goals. But for the guys who you leave behind, which I've never forgotten - I speak to you, I speak to Steve - it still sits wrong with me, deep inside of me, which I don't think is the case with all foreign players who are coming in because they don't build those relationships."

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