Chris Wheeler of the Daily Mail claims David Moyes is likely to make wholesale changes to a squad that has suffered three consecutive defeats since the turn of the year.
Rooney is one man he would rather not lose, but contract negotiations are currently not moving in the right direction. Wheeler writes:
Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra could all leave with Javier Hernandez, Nani, Anderson, Alex Buttner and Anders Lindegaard likely to join them.
There is also continuing anxiety about Wayne Rooney’s refusal to sign a new contract and Robin van Persie’s lack of form under the new manager.
Rooney's name is rarely out of the headlines for one reason or another, but his inability to sign a new Old Trafford contract certainly suggests his future isn't set in stone.
Should Manchester United sell Wayne Rooney?
The Premier League champions fought to keep their star forward during a summer saga that saw him heavily linked with a move to Chelsea.
Rooney was said to put in his second transfer request at the climax of last season by former boss Sir Alex Ferguson, something the player denied—per John Cross of the Mirror—but Moyes fought hard to keep him at the Theatre of Dreams, reported by Sky Sports.
Jamie Jackson of The Guardian confirms Rooney has "entered the final 18 months of a reputed £300,000-a-week deal."
Worryingly for United, Bob Cass of the Daily Mail suggests the club's potential inability to qualify for next season's Champions League will give Chelsea the perfect opportunity to launch another bid for his signature:
Chelsea are ready to pounce with a £30million bid for Wayne Rooney if the Manchester United forward’s proposed new contract talks hit the buffers.
United will meet Rooney’s representatives this month for initial discussions about a new deal, but serious doubts remain as to whether they can persuade him to sign if the club fail to qualify for the Champions League.
Despite United's terrible start to life under Moyes, Rooney has played a key role in a lot of the club's success this season.
His 11 goals and 12 assists across 22 appearances in the Premier League and Champions League remain an important contribution, especially when United look so lightweight during his current injury spell, per WhoScored.com.
He also notched up a season-high number of cautions and walked the disciplinary tightrope with moments of petulance—such as his needless kick on Cardiff's Jordon Mutch—as noted by OptaJoe:
7 - @WayneRooney has picked up more yellow cards than any other player in the Premier League this season. Grumpy.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 8, 2014
It seems unlikely Moyes would let his former Everton prodigy leave, especially after sternly confirming the player would stay throughout the summer.
Rooney is undoubtedly a huge loss if he decides to quit, but his transfer would provide the new manager an opportunity to build a fresh team around future signings.
As United struggle to replicate victory found under Ferguson, Moyes may feel a complete change of personnel will help usher in a new era of success. Ferguson left his heir with an aging squad, one devoid of strength in depth, but the club has emphasised this by failing to address these problems during Moyes' first summer in charge.
Marouane Fellaini remains the boss' only signing to date, something United fans will hope to see change during the January transfer window.
While many supporters will be fine to see the likes of Ferdinand, Evra and Alexander Buttner leave, Rooney's departure is unlikely to be met with major approval.