The Sunday Supplement panel believe that Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is gradually pushing Wayne Rooney out of Old Trafford.
The 31-year-old broke Sir Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record with his 250th goal for the club earlier this month, but that’s a high in a season of uncertainty for the England international.
Despite the fact that his contract runs until 2019, he has fallen out of the starting line-up under Jose Mourinho, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic leading the line and supported by the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial.
That fierce competition for places has led to a lack of playing time for Rooney, and in turn doubts have emerged over his long-term future at Old Trafford.
“Jose Mourinho has been looking for a way to gently phase Rooney out over this season, similarly to how he did with Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole on his return to Chelsea in 2013,” The Independent’s Jack Pitt-Brooke told the Sunday Supplement.
“Equally, he doesn’t want to do anything that can be seen as disrespectful to Rooney. He’s played him a bit and allowed him to break the record, which is a fantastic achievement.”
Pitt-Brooke added that with rumours of either a move to MLS or China, it will come down to whether Rooney and his family prioritise lifestyle over money or vice versa as ultimately it looks as though his time in Manchester is drawing to a natural close.
Having joined the Premier League giants in 2004, the stalwart has enjoyed a stellar career with United. However, having now written his name into their history books and with the younger generation coming through and displacing him, it would seem as though Mourinho’s ‘phasing out’ is warranted and a sensible move.