Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has made an earlier-than-expected return to pre-season training as the player bids to hit the ground running ahead of the 2017/18 season.
Where Rooney will be plying his trade next term may be in question but his determination to hit the ground running is not as the United captain has already brought his summer holiday to an end.
The 31-year-old is seriously considering a move away from Old Trafford after 13 medal-laden years, having found playing time restricted under Jose Mourinho.
Rooney’s status with England has also declined, with the country’s all-time top scorer and most capped outfield player left out of the last two squads having been eased out of the starting line-up and captain’s armband.
Whether the forward can force his way back into Gareth Southgate’s thoughts ahead of next summer’s World Cup is uncertain, as is the forward’s club future.
However, Rooney’s drive to kick on next term is unquestionable.
It is understood the forward is back in the UK and already getting into shape for the new campaign, despite United not heading on their pre-season tour until July 9.
Rooney has been away with his family during the off-season – a period he intended to use to make a final decision on his club future.
“Honestly, I’ve said before, I don’t know,” Rooney said when asked if he would still be at United next term after lifting the Europa League in May.
“I’ve got decisions to make now over the next few weeks, have a word with my family, and then I’ll decide. I think I just have to make a decision in terms of a football decision, and that’s what I’ll do.
“I’ll do that the next few weeks with my family while I’m away and, honestly, as soon as I know what’s going on then, I’m sure you (will know).”
Rooney had “more or less” made a decision on future in late May and said there were “lots of offers in the table, both in England and abroad”.
The 31-year-old did, though, rule out playing for any Premier League sides other than United or boyhood club Everton.
Rooney swapped Goodison Park for Old Trafford in 2004, with Toffees boss Ronald Koeman earlier this year expressing his belief that the England international would make them “stronger”.
The United States – where United will head for the bulk of pre-season – is another potential destination, so too the Chinese Super League.
It is understood Rooney’s agent Paul Stretford was in China speaking to interested clubs in February, only for Rooney to confirm he was staying put in a statement.
The transfer window in China opened on Monday, although a 100 per cent tax on transfer fees for loss-making clubs could make a deal prohibitively expensive.
Rooney still has a season left on his contract with United, with the club holding an option to extend it by a further season.
It is understood that those behind the scenes at United are happy for the 31-year-old to remain at the club, while Mourinho has outlined his appreciation for the forward.
“Next season 100 per cent I would like him to be with us, but I don’t give you 100 per cent,” the United boss said in March.
“I am the kind of manager that likes the players to be happy, not to be with me just because I want them with me.”