Rooney set for bumper pay day
Wayne Rooney's advisors are aiming to push the Manchester United striker's wages close to the £200,000-a-week mark to make him one of the top earners in world football.
Rooney is set to sign a new five-year contract prior to heading off to this summer's World Cup in South Africa and his camp will demand that his wages reach £200,000k in the final year at least.
However, the Glazers flagged up the escalating wages in their recent bond prospectus, and will want to rein in the big spending on the massive wage bill. However, Rooney is an exception, and Sir Alex Ferguson will not countenance the 24-year-old's exit.
Soccernet broke the story before the weekend that Rooney will be offered a new contract before the finals and Manchester United sources confirmed to Soccernet that a new lucrative contract would be on the table this summer.
Rooney's future - and specifically the content of any new contract - was high on the agenda of Monday morning's press and media.
Rooney's camp might consider it prudent to wait until the World Cup is over when, if Rooney and England excel, his worth will be even greater.
United, though, will want it sorted out as soon as possible, and there is a big argument that it might be counterproductive to Rooney becoming a world star in South Africa if he carries the burden of uncertainty over his future into the tournament.
Rooney's four-goal haul against Hull City to take United back to the top of the Premier League emphasises his worth at Old Trafford, and his advisors have known that for some time.
Clearly any demand for a five-year contract that exceeds £50 million will be rebuffed by United, but anything substantially less will cause a standoff that will only harm both camps. The solution is an acceptable immediate pay hike to £140,000-a-week.
The devil will be in the detail, though, and United will need to agree substantial annual increases to reward loyalty, which will mean hitting £200,000-a-week in the final year or two of the contract.
Rooney has two-and-a-half years on his current deal, and it is United policy to review the contracts of their star players with two years left, which makes this summer the landmark period.
Ferguson recognises Rooney as the club's most influential player, a potential future captain of both club and country, and before the expiry of any new deal, Rooney is expected to rise to both honours.
Real Madrid and Barcelona have both been linked to Rooney for some time now, and the argument is that they have been encouraged by United's recent financial profile.
The Spanish clubs could try to turn Rooney's head with offers of £250,000-a-week, which would take him onto the level of Cristiano Ronaldo, whose salary reaches such lavish proportions with image rights deals and beneficial tax and currency exchange rates.
The key factor, as Soccernet reported last week, is Rooney's desire to remain at Old Trafford, and his aversion to going abroad. Those two factors are sure to enable United to reach a reasonable compromise over the new contract.
However it is carved up, the staggered increases and image rights will propel Rooney into the £200,000-a-week bracket at the tail-end of his career.
While United fans want to see evidence of the Glazers' commitment to the club with a big-money signing, a massive new contract for Rooney will placate some, not all, who fear more players will be sold off like Ronaldo to service the debt, currently £716 million.
Cristiano Ronaldo was sold to Real Madrid for £80 million last summer, but Ferguson insists the money is there for him to spend and that the lack of reinvestment in a major star has been because he has not found the quality player at the right price. The fans, though, are not convinced - and the re-signing of Rooney will help that cause. Any threat of a sale of Rooney would heighten tension to boiling point.