Wayne Rooney will make his own decision as to whether to leave Manchester United for the riches of the Chinese Super League, according to club manager Jose Mourinho.
Rooney’s 250th Manchester United goal in the 1-1 draw at Stoke on Saturday saw him pass Sir Bobby Charlton as the club’s record scorer.
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.
Mourinho says there is more to come from Rooney at Old Trafford but insists 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 (Ibrahimovic) 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.
“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 received the Football Writers’ Association Tribute Award on Sunday evening and focussed his attention on the national side rather than United, saying England will have a better chance of succeeding if the division between media and players dissipates.
“The younger players now have to understand that the media are a massive part of football,” Rooney said.
“I have seen first-hand since becoming captain of United and England, players have to realise that the media has a huge influence on the game, and especially on the young England players, they are the ones who have to go out and perform under the huge pressures.
“It is tough and I feel it is sometimes unfair, sometimes it is right, so the one thing, for me, that should happen – at this moment in time there is a huge gap between the media and the players.
“I think the quicker both media and the players need to come together and meet in the middle, the better it will be for English football.”