Richards reports it is increasingly likely that Rooney will see out the remainder of his current deal, enabling him to become a free agent:
The England striker is understood to be waiting until at least the summer to see who else David Moyes brings in before making a decision about his future.
United are said to want to offer the 28-year-old a new four-year £250,000 a week plus incentives deal.
United need to match Chelsea's £39 million valuation of the Spanish wizard to secure his transfer, per Richards' article. Rooney, meanwhile, is attracting interest from abroad, with Real Madrid said to be keen on his services:
However, the deal collapsed as the player had a change of heart and decided to remain with his club.
One huge factor is different this time, compared to 2010. Previously, Rooney and Sir Alex Ferguson's relationship had deteriorated. Where the Liverpudlian was once at the top of Fergie's list in terms of affection, he then slipped down the order, as the manager started to lose his tolerance of him.
United were also a more positive club back then, a world away from their current seventh-placed position in the Premier League.
On this occasion, Rooney has the backing of David Moyes. Much skepticism was cast over whether the former Everton duo could work together after Moyes sued Rooney for libel in 2007, per the Telegraph, but the player's form has been sensational this season.
Both men appear to be on the same page, and this will give United a huge advantage in contract talks.
Mata's capture would be significant for United, but it is likely that the Chelsea attacker's arrival will have no impact on Rooney's future. The pair can play together if the England man chooses to stay, but Rooney ultimately will not be swayed merely by the Spaniard's addition, according to Richards.
The exit of United's talisman would be a huge blow to the club's supporters, who have twice forgiven Rooney for talk of walking away from Old Trafford. For some, that trust was permanently fractured at the end of last season.
Will Wayne Rooney run down his contract and leave Manchester United?
Despite United winning a 20th league championship, Rooney looked unable to enjoy it, with him missing Fergie's final game in charge. His body language was that of a player who would soon be leaving.
However, Rooney's form and effervescence this term has given the United faithful hope in retaining him. An attack of Rooney, Mata and Robin van Persie would strike fear into the hearts of every team in Europe and drive United back up the Premier League table.
Only time will tell if this is a challenge Rooney wishes to accept.