Robin van Persie has made it clear he wants Wayne Rooney to remain at Old Trafford, saying he and his fellow forward make each other better players.
Speaking with the Champions League magazine this week (h/t Daily Mail's Craig Hope) Van Persie says United are at their strongest when both forwards are on the pitch, noting:
We realise that we are stronger when we are playing together, as a partnership. You are always stronger, in any sport, in life, when you are doing stuff together. With a player of Wayne’s calibre, we can go from strength to strength, and we can become even better.
One game he will score a couple, the next game I will score a couple. It is important that this partnership is becoming even stronger.
Rooney has once again been linked with a move to Chelsea during the January transfer window, a situation fuelled by Jose Mourinho when he appeared to place the ball in the England striker's court, per Sky Sports.
Van Persie, who currently sits alongside Rooney on the treatment table, arguably produced his most prolific Arsenal form when he played as the sole striker. But at United, he appears to have found an understanding with his strike partner.
The 30-year-old believes that success is down to both him and Rooney possessing a unique quality in that they are neither examples of your more conventional No. 9 or No. 10, but are instead something in between:
In a way we are both "nine-and-a-halves," because we can play high up front and we can drop. That is an extra quality we have, which is quite rare. If you look around you have loads of main strikers, target men, foxes-in-the-boxes, and you have No 10s who are dropping in more.
With us it’s not obvious because we can both do that job. Wayne is doing a bit more, because he is playing behind me, but we can both do it.
The Dutch hitman is right in that Rooney has grown more accustomed to dropping deep over recent seasons, providing assists for his colleagues.
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However, the English international clearly remains a keen scoring threat, evidenced by the fact he leads United's scoring chart with nine goals in 16 league starts this season, per Transfermarkt.co.uk.
Mourinho remained mute when quizzed on whether his side are preparing another move for David Moyes' striker after having two bids for his services rejected over the summer, per Sky Sports.
However, he currently holds something of an advantage over the Red Devils, due to the fact Chelsea appear destined for Champions League football next season—something United cannot guarantee right now.
The Blues face United this weekend, but both Rooney and Van Persie will likely miss the encounter through injury, according to ESPN:
As Squawka suggests, United's drop through the Premier League ranks is undoubtedly tied to the fact the pair have been kept from lining up alongside each other as frequently as they might have hoped:
@aysepblog Then surely that can be attributed the injuries to van Persie and Rooney? Both players didn't pick up injuries last season.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 15, 2014
Chelsea and Arsenal, meanwhile, have relied largely on their midfield ranks to score, but United don't have the same wealth of talent outside their crocked front two.
Van Persie's recent comments confirm it would be a giant loss for Rooney to leave in 2014, and Moyes is now fully aware that the sale of one half of his preferred forward line may lead to the unsettling of the other.