By Greg Stobart
Wayne Rooney has taken a significant step towards the Manchester United exit door after he was ordered to train with reserves by David Moyes on Thursday following a meeting between club officials and his agent Paul Stretford, Goal can reveal.
Stretford arrived at Carrington early on Thursday and when Rooney turned up for training, he was told that he would be working with the reserve players.
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Rooney is recovering from a shoulder problem that ruled him out of Tuesday’s friendly against AIK in Stockholm, but was given no indication that he would be exiled from the first-team squad.
Moyes’ decision to keep Rooney away from the first-team represents a change in United’s stance towards the striker. The United boss has publicly insisted Rooney is not for sale but, privately, has been angered by the 27-year-old’s attempts to engineer a summer transfer to Chelsea.
Rooney is desperate to push through a move to the Blues, who have had two bid rejected for the 27-year-old, the latest worth nearly £30 million including add-ons.
He believes there is no way back for him at the club and is highly unlikely to play in Rio Ferdinand’s testimonial against Sevilla on Friday or the Community Shield clash against Wigan on Sunday.
And after Moyes banished him from the first-team on Thursday, it appears increasingly likely that United will look to cash in on the England international this summer.
Goal first revealed in May that Rooney was ‘hell bent’ on leaving United while he is understood to fear a backlash from the fans if the club force him to stay at Old Trafford.
Rooney remains Chelsea’s number-one target as Jose Mourinho looks for a top class forward, with sources suggesting that the saga surrounding the England star’s future is likely to continue until the final week of the window.
Rooney made it known that he was “angry and confused” after quotes from Moyes emerged suggesting he would be kept at Old Trafford simply as back-up to Robin van Persie.
Moyes subsequently clarified his comments to Rooney in telephone conversations, but the former Everton man is determined to leave this summer, having been further angered by comments from Ed Woodward, United’s executive vice-chairman, suggesting that the club would not open talks to extend Rooney’s £250,000-a-week contract, which expires in 2015.