Fergie to face Rooney grilling

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MANCHESTER, October 19 -MANCHESTER, October 19, 2010 (AFP) – Sir Alex Ferguson was due to face questions about Wayne Rooney Tuesday as speculation about the unsettled Manchester United striker's future at the club raged on.

Ferguson was scheduled to give a press conference at 2pm local time (1300 GMT) ahead of Manchester United’s Champions League tie against Bursaspor, a match that has been overshadowed by the saga surrounding Rooney.

Rooney, 24, is reported to have told United that he wants to leave the club as soon as possible after a breakdown in his previously close relationship with Ferguson following revelations about the player’s private life.

A Manchester United spokesman described stories about Rooney wanting to leave as "nonsense" on Sunday, but the issue continued to dominate British newspaper reports early Tuesday.

Several newspapers said United’s hated crosstown rivals Manchester City had emerged as the preferred destination for Rooney.

The Daily Mail said Rooney had already told team-mates at United he would be ready to move to City, who would have no difficulty matching his wage demands expected to be in the region of 230,000 pounds a week.

Rooney’s wife Coleen had meanwhile told the player she was unwilling to move overseas while her 12-year-old sister remains seriously ill, the paper reported.

That would appear to limit Rooney’s options to Manchester City and Chelsea, two clubs with billionaire owners who are likely to jump at any opportunity to sign the player, the paper said.

The Guardian meanwhile said Rooney moving to Eastlands would represent the "most rancorous and staggering transfer of modern times."

The newspaper said City would do everything they could to take advantage of the player’s breakdown in relations with Ferguson, noting that City’s administrator Brian Marwood has a long-standing association with the player’s agent, Paul Stretford, and the player, having previously worked for Nike, one of Rooney’s main sponsors.

"We hadn’t discussed signing Rooney until the last week because we never thought he would be available, just like we have never discussed signing Lionel Messi from Barcelona," the Guardian quoted an unidentified senior figure at Eastlands as saying.

"Now we know he wants to leave United we’re obviously going to monitor it closely."

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