Chelsea have strenuously denied the suggestion that they offered Juan Mata or David Luiz as makeweights in the deal to sign Wayne Rooney – although the club have confirmed that they made an offer for the Manchester United player yesterday.
The London club are furious at what they believe is a United briefing designed to undermine their relationship with their own players and released a statement an hour before their game in Bangkok today to deny that Mata or Luiz were offered as part of the deal - reported to be also worth an extra £10m to United.
Chelsea said in a statement: "Chelsea can confirm that yesterday it made a written offer to Manchester United for the transfer of Wayne Rooney. Although the terms of the offer are confidential, for the avoidance of doubt and contrary to what is apparently being briefed to press in Sydney, the proposed purchase price does not include the transfer or loan of any player from Chelsea to Manchester United."
It is understood the bid was rejected out of hand by the Premier League champions.
Chelsea have made Rooney their top target this summer, but this is the first time that their interest has been backed up by an actual approach for the player.
Intriguingly, it comes less than 24-hours after sources close to the Manchester United striker told the media that Rooney was "angry and confused" over comments made by David Moyes. The new Manchester United manager appeared to suggest Rooney is below Robin van Persie in the pecking order at Old Trafford.
United have consistently stated that Rooney is not for sale and will remain a Manchester United player.
Chelsea manager Mourinho has been vocal in his interest in Rooney - expressing his admiration for the player and yesterday issuing the deeply provocative observation from Bangkok, where Chelsea are on tour, that “if Wayne is a second choice for Man United, then the national team will be affected”.
The Rooney source said that the player considered himself to be “at the peak of his career” and had “no intention of letting that career go backwards” as a squad player or second-choice player. “He doesn’t believe he has anything to prove as a player after nine successful years at Old Trafford. Yet that is what seems to have been suggested by media reports which interpret the club… as meaning he is on trial for the season.”
Moyes said of Rooney at the weekend that “if for any reason we had an injury to Robin [van Persie] we’re going to need him.” But there has been no suggestion from the new United manager that he considers him to be second choice for No 10, in the space between Van Persie and the midfield – a role the player enjoys and has flourished in for England. The manager has stated only that he considers that spot to be Shinji Kagawa’s best position.
Rooney, who has rapidly made his feelings known to United about the portrayal of his position, has not emerged from that conversation with any belief that the manager’s comments have been misrepresented. He is also unhappy about comments by the United chief executive, Ed Woodward, who said at the weekend that there was “no trigger date in the diary” for talks over Rooney’s £250,000-a-week contract, which has two years to run. “Would we be afraid to run a contract down?” Woodward asked. “Of course not.”
Rooney’s feelings are highly unlikely to elicit much sympathy with United supporters, many of whom will view them as a narrow and unreasonable interpretation of what Moyes has said about the striker. Rooney’s decision not to make a public commitment to United has already contributed to him dominating the agenda in Moyes’ early weeks, when the new manager needs the club pulling together behind him. Many fans will view the forward’s unhappiness with what has been reported about him as his way of driving a move away from the club to Chelsea – albeit less overtly than in October 2010, when he declared that United lacked transfer market ambition. He was persuaded then to stay and received a new contract.
Rooney will have to put in a transfer request if he is to leave, with United adamant that he is not for sale. “Unless I was speaking double Dutch, I think I’ve said Wayne Rooney is not for sale,” Moyes said last week when Mourinho first expressed his admiration for the striker.