Journalist Piers Morgan wrote in his column with the Daily Mail (h/t Kevin Palmer of the Irish Independent):
My phone rang at 11 p.m. It was England football captain Wayne Rooney.
He wanted to discuss his forthcoming Manchester United testimonial plans this summer. But we also talked about reports in the papers this week that he’s been offered ridiculous sums of money to go and play in China for Shanghai, a team managed by Sven-Goran Eriksson.
He then revealed a figure, based on a three-year deal, so stupendously, stratospherically gigantic that it did indeed make me feel instantly nauseous.
Without giving too much away, let’s just say it included eight noughts. I literally gasped in horror, prompting him to add a final killer blow. After tax!
The figure would be at least £100 million over three years. China recently emerged as a financial powerhouse in world football and made a number of high-profile signings this winter.
Bankrolled by private investors and the state, Chinese Super League clubs such as Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai Shenhua lured the likes of Alex Teixeira, Ramires, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Jackson Martinez to the far east in big-money deals.
Andrew Richardson of the Sun reported an unnamed Chinese side had offered United £27 million for Rooney in February with the England striker enduring a difficult campaign.
The forward has scored 14 goals in all competitions this season but just half have come in the Premier League. His form picked up significantly at the turn of the year, though, as he scored seven goals and assisted three in nine games in 2016 prior to getting injured.
Football writer Elko Born noted the contrast in his performances, while sports writer Jonas Giaever also commented on his dramatic improvement:
Rooney is doing well and deserves praise but he was atrocious for months. Held MUFC back in first 1/2 of the season. Two true statements.— Elko Born (@Elko_B) February 2, 2016
Did Wayne Rooney just wake up on January 1st and go "right, time to go back to my 2009/2010-version now"?— Jonas Giæver (@CheGiaevara) February 2, 2016
Rooney still has three more years on his current deal at Old Trafford, where he is not only the club's highest earner but the Premier League's.
Should United sell Rooney before the end of his contract?
Given his mixed but overall declining form in recent years—he only hit 12 league goals last season—that could be something of a concern as he is no longer the player he once was, so it may benefit the Red Devils to move him on before his contract expires.
The 30-year-old was never likely to leave United in the middle of the season, though, so it's no surprise he turned down the move—not to mention that given his age he likely still feels he can contribute at the top level for a while longer.
If Rooney does move abroad in the later stages of his career, the United States seems a more likely destination as it would allow him to follow in the footsteps of England team-mates Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole.