23 Jan Mourinho backs club legend’s options
Jose Mourinho will not stand in Wayne Rooney’s way if the Manchester United captain decides to move to China.
Rooney became United’s record scorer on Saturday when his 250th club goal earned a 1-1 draw at Stoke in the Premier League and saw him surpass Sir Bobby Charlton’s mark.
The 31-year-old came off the bench to help his side rescue a point, meaning half of his 16 league appearances this season have come as a substitute.
Several high-profile players have moved from Europe to play in the Chinese Super League, with Rooney being linked with a switch when his United career comes to an end.
United boss Mourinho feels Rooney remains an important player for the club but believes his skipper has earned the right to decide where he wants to play in the future.
“I think he still has more to give us, but you reach a certain level in his career when it is up to him,” the former Chelsea manager told several national newspapers.
“Could anyone be critical with Zlatan last summer if he decided to go to China or the US? Could anyone be critical with one guy with such an amazing career? No, and I think with Wayne it is the same. He owns his life, he owns his career. It’s him, his family and his decision.”
Mourinho insisted he has not had talks with Rooney about the forward’s future but defended players who decide on a move to China.
He added: “I don’t like to be critical of players who decide to go to China. It’s their life, it’s their organisation of their life, their organisation of their career. The money is huge, the experience can also be very interesting.
“I know some of my colleagues think they are more important than they are and think they can interfere in the lives of other people, but I’m not that sort of guy.
“But in Wayne’s case, I have no idea. He never mentioned anything to me.
“The future belongs to him and what he wants from his career, the way he wants to end it and enjoy this last part of his career belongs to him.”
Rooney’s former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson talked up China as an attractive option for Rooney.
The 68-year-old, who has been coaching in China since 2013, told BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme: “China today is a great place to live. If you have never been in China, you don’t believe your eyes when you come here today.
“And I’m sure Rooney could play in any team here.”