Jose Mourinho says he has no intention of forcing Wayne Rooney out of Manchester United, adding that “you have to ask him” about a potential move to China.
Rooney, 31, has been linked with a move to the Chinese Super League, with a number of clubs reportedly hopeful of convincing him of completing a switch before next Tuesday’s Chinese transfer deadline.
Mourinho, speaking at a news conference ahead of United’s Europa League clash with St Etienne on Wednesday, said he is not the person to ask about the speculation, but insisted that he does not want his captain to depart the club.
“You’ll have to ask him,” the United boss said. “You have to ask him. “Of course I can’t guarantee [he will be here]. I can’t guarantee that I’m here next week, how can I guarantee that a player is here next season?
“What I can guarantee is that if Wayne one day leaves the club it is not because I want him to leave the club. That’s the only thing I can guarantee.
“I would never push — or try to push — a legend of this club to another destiny. So you have to ask him if he sees himself staying in the club for the rest of his career or if he sees himself moving. It is not a question for me because I am happy to have him.”
Pushed on whether it was possible Rooney could leave in the next week, Mourinho said: “I was very open with you in the answer. I don’t want him to leave.”
Mourinho was unable to say if Rooney would be fit in time to feature in the EFL Cup final against Southampton on Sunday.
Rooney was not been named in United’s squad to face St Etienne despite returning to training on Tuesday following a muscle strain.
“I don’t know,” Mourinho said. “It was the first time he trained and he didn’t even train 100 percent with the group. You saw 15 minutes open to the press and, yes, he was doing the warm-up and basic things after that. But then when the training session was high in intensity, he was not training.
“He has no chance for tomorrow. He’s not here, he stayed back training and let’s see for the weekend.”
Mourinho was confident that other players would be able to step up in Rooney’s absence.
“When you don’t have a player, you have others,” Mourinho said. “And the others they work, they work hard. The team is in a good moment. In the past four months, we lost only one game and we lost a game that we could lose because it’s a two-legged match for the League Cup.
“So the team is in a good moment, we have players in attacking areas, they are playing well. And Rooney is injured, it is simple.”