Manchester United Transfer News: 'Marquee Player' Linked to Wayne Rooney Rumours

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2016

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 13:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United controls the ball during the Barclays Premier m/ match between Sunderland and Manchester United at The Stadium of Light on February 13, 2016 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images)
Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Manchester United are reportedly open to selling Wayne Rooney to a Chinese club as long as they can bring in a similarly high-profile "marquee" player to replace him.

According to Samuel Luckhurst in the Manchester Evening News, United have received a significant offer for their captain from a Chinese Super League club, but they will only accept it if they can bring in a "replacement their global partners would approve of to promote their products."

The report added that Rooney, 30, is currently United's most marketable player by some way, and thus the only way United chiefs—specifically executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward—could rationalise selling him is if they were to bring in an equally big star to fill the void he would leave.

The former Everton man has been at the Manchester club for 12 years and is on the verge of breaking Sir Bobby Charlton's club goalscoring record.

Bleacher Report's Dean Jones recently claimed Rooney is not open to a move to China just yet despite the huge money on offer, and the England captain wants to see out his current contract at Old Trafford to 2019:

However, with Rooney now sidelined for six weeks through injury, it seems the club may have other ideas as they could demand a significant sum from Chinese clubs for a player as well known as Rooney.

Clubs in the Far East have made significant waves recently in the transfer market, paying huge fees for players like Ramires (£25 million from Chelsea to Jiangsu Suning), Jackson Martinez (£31 million from Atletico Madrid to Guangzhou Evergrande) and Alex Teixeira (£38 million from Shakhtar Donetsk to Jiangsu Suning).

Rooney is a far bigger name than any of those players and would likely draw a larger fee.

Woodward recently acknowledged the role the Chinese market could play for United, per football writer Richard Jolly:

Rooney joined United from Everton for £25.6 million and has been a major servant of the club ever since, winning five Premier League titles and a UEFA Champions League.

But he has been far from his best in recent seasons and has scored only seven goals in 22 Premier League appearances in 2015-16, five of which he has netted since the turn of the year, per WhoScored.

The United hierarchy may well feel the time is right to move on their biggest star, as the longer they keep him, the more his value decreases.

The sale of Rooney to China in the summer could raise enough funds to reinvest in another huge star, perhaps even long-rumoured target Gareth Bale from Real Madrid, per Rory Smith in the Times.

While many of the United faithful would be sad to see him go, Rooney is arguably past his best, and his departure could usher in a new era at Old Trafford, led by whichever star is brought in to replace him.