Wayne Rooney wants to stay at Manchester United – but admits he may have to move on if his lack of game-time continues to be an issue.
For so long a key player for club and country, this season the 31-year-old has found himself in the unusual position of scrapping for a starting role.
Rooney has made just 22 United starts across the competitions and continuing questions over his viability at the top level have fuelled talk that his future lies away from Old Trafford.
The skipper committed his immediate future to United in February amid interest from China, saying he wanted to remain at the club during this “exciting time” – a period that could soon bring Europa League glory.
Rooney spoke of his desire to win the competition on the eve of the semi-final second leg against Celta Vigo, although his future rather than the tie formed the main line of questioning in the press conference.
“Of course you want to play, you want to play every game,” he said. “Sometimes that’s football.
“I’ve had to keep working and try to take my chances when I get the opportunity. That’s what I’ve done and when called upon I’ll try my best to help the team.”
Asked if he thinks this could be his final chance to reach a big final with United, Rooney said: “My focus is on trying to help us win this final and that’s my sole focus.
“I think it’s a massive opportunity for us as a group of players to win a European title and my focus is to help us try and win this one.”
Everton and the United States are other potential destinations, but Rooney is keen to stay at Old Trafford, even if he had to be pushed on a subject the forward seemed keen to skirt around.
“Would I like to stay? I’ve been at this club 13 years,” he said. “Of course I want to play football. Of course (I want to do it here).”
“I haven’t thrown my toys out the pram”
This is, though, a period of transition in Rooney’s career – something the skipper is all too aware of.
No longer the lung-busting teenager that burst on to the scene, the 31-year-old is having to adapt his game to the changes that come with age.
“I think football changes and you have different periods, different challenges in your career,” Rooney said.
“This season, of course, I haven’t played as much as I’d like to play. I would like to play more but that’s the way it’s panned out.
“I’ve tried to help the team off the pitch, on the pitch and tried to help us win.
“I haven’t thrown my toys out of the pram, I haven’t made a big fuss of it.
“But of course I’m a football player, I want to play football and the more I can play obviously the better for me and the more I feel I can help the team.”