A report by Jeremy Cross in The Daily Star claims that, if United fail to finish in the top four and seal their place in Europe's top tournament next season, they will force Rooney to see out his contract and fight for the club's future:
United are open to selling their star striker in the summer IF they secure a top four spot this season.
If they fall short under-fire boss Moyes wants Rooney to stay at Old Trafford to get United back into European football’s biggest competition the following season.
Senior United sources have confirmed that all bids for the 28-year-old would then be rejected.
It is a risky strategy by United and is one that could backfire spectacularly. If United make it into the top four and sell Rooney, on the assumption that they can sign other big-name players to replace him, they are gambling on those players replicating the impact Rooney has on the team.
Per ESPN FC, nine goals and nine assists in 17 Premier League games this term makes him one of the most feared attackers in the country.
United will not necessarily be able to attract the star names under Moyes, as proven by his frustrated attempts to strengthen last summer, per Massimo Marioni of Metro.
If United fail to make the Champions League, the decision to keep Rooney would represent a concession that they are not in a position of strength, and it would present another gamble—this time financial—as the England man winds down his contract in the hope he can lead them back to Europe's top table.
There are glaring weaknesses throughout the United team, and plenty of players don't look up to the task of putting United back into contention at the top of the table.
The central midfield area and the wide positions have both produced underwhelming performers, with the likes of Nani, Tom Cleverley and Marouane Fellaini all frustrating United fans this term.
As reported by David McDonnell of Mirror Football, former United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel believes there is too much dead wood:
There are a few players who haven’t been performing this year or the year before.
At some point the manager needs to make a decision about whether to keep them, then maybe bring in some younger players instead to make some kind of statement.
If you’re a senior player and you really want to make an impact in the dressing room, it’s difficult if there are players not as committed as you and they have a certain status.
If United recover to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League, they must still do all they can to ensure Rooney stays in order to attract other top names.
Selling their star man, even if he goes abroad, would send out a negative message at a time when few positive vibes are coming out of Old Trafford.