Wayne Rooney could be set for a remarkable switch to America with DC United.
The Everton striker is wanted by the MLS side as a marquee signing, and the Blues are ready to let the former England captain leave should he wish to.
Goal understands that talks over a potential move to Washington are already at an advanced stage, and that there is growing confidence on both sides that a deal can be agreed which would see the 32-year-old sign a two-year contract with DC.
Rooney returned to Everton last July on a free transfer from Manchester United, but his dream return to Goodison Park has been a mixed one.
He is Everton’s leading scorer this season with 11 goals, but has found life difficult as the Blues have endured a far-from-impressive campaign, first under Ronald Koeman, then caretaker boss David Unsworth and finally Sam Allardyce.
Playing predominantly in a midfield role, he has not scored since December 18, and has reacted angrily to being substituted early in games – especially during last month’s Merseyside derby with Liverpool, where he was pictured swearing towards Allardyce as he was removed .
Allardyce, it is understood, is willing to sanction Rooney’s departure, though there is opposition to that idea at boardroom level – most notably from chairman Bill Kenwright.
Kenwright confirmed at Everton’s end of season awards that Rooney had taken a sizeable pay cut to return to his boyhood club last summer, and described negotiations for that deal as his “greatest and shortest”. Kenwright is desperate for Rooney to remain at the club.
But Farhad Moshiri, the club’s majority shareholder, is understood to be more receptive to the idea of him leaving, given his wages and the team’s performances this term. Moshiri, Goal understands, has expressed doubts as to Rooney’s physical capabilities on more than one occasion this season.
Rooney still has a year to run on his contract, and is the club’s highest earner on around £150,000 a week. But with Everton’s squad in need of a major overhaul this summer, the club appear ready to part with their star name.
The situation, though, is further complicated by uncertainty surrounding the manager’s position at Goodison. Allardyce believes he will be in charge next season despite widespread discontent among supporters, while Goal revealed last week that Everton were still exploring alternative options, with former Hull and Watford boss Marco Silva still very much on their agenda.
Speaking about Rooney to talkSPORT earlier this week, Allardyce said: “There are rumours about Wayne going elsewhere abroad – in China and America – but at the moment he is an Everton player and an Everton fan.
“So I wouldn’t consider anything on the cards on the moment. It would have to be massive for him to want to leave Everton.”
The MLS trade and transfer window re-opens on July 10 and runs until August 8. DC United plan to open their new 20,000-capacity Audi Field stadium in July, and hope to have Rooney on board by that point. They have two slots available for ‘designated players’ – players who earn more than the standard MLS wage - and are keen to secure a marquee striker.
The question now appears to be whether Rooney is willing to break his ties with Everton for a second time, less than 12 months after his emotional return.