By David McDonnell
Wayne Rooney fears Manchester United are preparing to offload him for £40million.
Rooney’s relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson has broken down, with United now ready to cash in on the England striker.
With Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez, Ferguson feels he has enough options in attack to cope without Rooney. Hernandez has publicly declared he is ready to accept the challenge of replacing Rooney.
Rooney’s perceived lack of fitness were cited as the reasons for him being dropped for Saturday’s 3-2 win over Fulham.
But another key factor behind Rooney’s demotion to the bench was the virtual disintegration of his relationship with United boss Ferguson.
Ferguson went out on a limb for Rooney during the 26-year-old’s ill-advised contract stand-off with United nearly two years ago.
The United boss did everything within his power to ensure Rooney stayed and did not defect to their bitter rivals Manchester City.
But Ferguson does not feel Rooney’s performances and commitment since then have justified the £250,000-a-week contract he was handed.
And United are said to be preparing the groundwork for Rooney’s departure, with next summer the likely date for him to go.
Rooney, currently sidelined for up to two months with a gashed right thigh, tweeted a picture of himself recovering and thanked those who had wished him well.
“Gutted to be out for a while but my leg will be OK which is the main thing.”
Team-mate Nani, who was left out of United’s squad against Fulham, could soon be on his way to Zenit St Petersburg in a £22m deal as contract talks stalled.