MANCHESTER, October 21 – Wayne Rooney confirmed he wants to leave Manchester United here Wednesday, saying he had decided to quit Old Trafford because the club could no longer attract top players.
One day after United boss Sir Alex Ferguson revealed Rooney had vowed not to sign a new contract, the 24-year-old superstar broke his silence by claiming his move was not motivated by money.
In a statement released before United’s Champions League tie with Bursaspor, Rooney said he was leaving after failing to win assurances from the club that they would continue to be able to invest in elite talent.
"It is absolutely true that my agent and I have had a number of meetings with the club about a new contract," Rooney said.
"During those meetings in August I asked for assurances about the continued ability of the club to attract the top players in the world.
"I met with (Manchester United chief executive) David Gill last week and he did not give me any of the assurances I was seeking about the future squad."
Rooney also hit out at suggestion made by Ferguson on Tuesday that he had failed to show the club "respect" since making his decision to quit.
"I was interested to hear what Sir Alex had to say yesterday and surprised by some of it," Rooney said.
"I have never had anything but complete respect for MUFC. How could I not have done given its fantastic history and especially the last six years in which I have been lucky to play a part?
"For me it’s all about winning trophies – as the club has always done under Sir Alex. Because of that I think the questions I was asking were justified.
"Despite recent difficulties, I know I will always owe Sir Alex Ferguson a huge debt. He is a great manager and mentor who has helped and supported me from the day he signed me from Everton when I was only 18.
"For Manchester United’s sake I wish he could go on forever because he’s a one off and a genius."
Rooney’s statement will do little to quell suspicions aired across the British media that his desire to leave Old Trafford is motivated by the possibility of a mammoth transfer, possibly to Manchester City.
Rooney is reportedly seeking to double his existing wages of 90,000 pounds a week, with City among the few clubs who have the financial muscle to meet his staggering salary demands and the expected 50 million pounds price tag.
City boss Roberto Mancini on Wednesday denied the club had made contact with Rooney, saying he believed the striker would stay at United.
"No. Never," said Mancini when asked if contact has been made with Rooney.
But Rooney’s accusation Manchester United are no longer able to compete with Europe’s wealthiest clubs in the transfer market will inevitably draw attention to the state of the English giants’ finances.
United have total debts approaching 750 million pounds and have to pay around 70 million pounds a year in interest alone.
Although the club announced a record turnover of 286.4 million pounds earlier this month and an operating profit of 100.8 million pounds, the club also revealed steep losses of 83.6 million pounds in the year to June 30.
Supporters groups have claimed that the debt obligation has left United unable to attract – or retain – elite level talent.
In the past two years, the club has witnessed the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo for a record 80 million pounds as well as the exit of Carlos Tevez to Manchester City. The bulk of the money from the Ronaldo transfer so far remains unspent.
Club officials have insisted Ferguson has access to money from the Ronaldo sale; the manager, however, has said he is reluctant to splash out because of a lack of value in the market, which in turn has fuelled suspicions that the true state of the club’s finances are being kept from fans.