January 23, 2017: Jose Mourinho believes Wayne Rooney still has more to give Manchester United but says he has earned the right to decide his own future.
The 31-year-old scored his 250th goal for United in the 1-1 draw at Stoke on Saturday, surpassing Sir Bobby Charlton as the club’s record scorer, but did so after coming off the bench meaning half of his 16 league appearances this season have come as a substitute.
Rooney has been linked with a move to the Chinese Super League and, while Mourinho believes there is more to come from the United skipper at Old Trafford, he insists any decision on the England forward’s future will be entirely down to the player.
“I think he still has more to give us, but you reach a certain level in his career when it is up to him,” Mourinho said.
“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’s 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 focused 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.”