No end to Rooney saga

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MANCHESTER, October 22 – The future of Wayne Rooney at Manchester United remained unresolved Thursday after a crisis meeting failed to produce a result.Manager Alex Ferguson held talks with the club’s chief executive David Gill and Rooney’s representatives a day after the superstar striker confirmed he wanted to quit the English giants.

In a statement released afterwards, the club said: "We are aware that there is intense public and media interest on the club at the moment, but there are no developments of note to report today.

"A number of meetings have taken place today, including with the player’s representative. The outcome of those meetings will become clear in the near future.

"In the meantime, fans are asked to be patient."

On Wednesday, Rooney, 24, said he was leaving because he believed United were no longer able to match his ambition by being able to compete in the transfer market for the world’s best players.

Rooney’s comments appeared to slam shut any chance of the striker being able to settle his differences with the club after Ferguson said on Tuesday the door was still open to a solution.

A furious Ferguson had reacted on Wednesday by telling reporters following United’s 1-0 Champions League victory over Bursaspor that the club had called a meeting in order to "put the issue to bed".

But the club did not release any further details on why Thursday’s talks had failed to resolve the issue.

Ferguson has not speculated on what course of action he may take but it seems likely that Rooney has played his last game in a United shirt and that the club will seek to sell him as soon as the January transfer window opens.

Rooney, the figurehead of the United team and one of the world’s most talented footballers, had stunned his employers by breaking off negotiations over a new contract and informing them he wished to leave.

With only 18 months left to run on his current 90,000 pounds (140,000 dollars) per week deal, United are now likely to offload Rooney as quickly as possible before his value, around 50 million pounds (79 million dollars), begins to depreciate.

Rooney would be able to leave United for free if he saw out the remainder of his contract.

Most reports have said that Manchester United’s arch local rivals, Manchester City, are the favourites to sign Rooney.

City, owned by Abu Dhabi billionaire Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, would comfortably be able to pay both the 50-million-pound transfer fee and Rooney’s salary demands, expected to be more than 200,000 pounds (316,000 dollars) per week.

Ferguson warned Rooney that any move to a new club was unlikely to be an improvement on United, where he has already accumulated eight major trophies in the six years since he signed from Everton as a teenager in 2004.

"Sometimes you look in a field and you see a cow and you think it’s a better cow than the one you’ve got in your own field," Ferguson remarked.

"And it never really works out that way. It’s probably the same cow or not as good as your own cow. Some players like to think that it’s better somewhere else. It never really works."

While the football world waits to discover Rooney’s fate, his team-mates are trying to block out the controversy as they focus on Sunday’s Premier League trip to Stoke.

United are already five points behind leaders Chelsea and England midfielder Michael Carrick is well aware his team cannot afford to be distracted by the Rooney saga as they try to stay in touch with the champions.

"You have to distance yourself from it. You have no choice," Carrick said.

"Obviously, the player and the club are huge, not just in England but around the world. It is big news.

"But we can only control what happens out on the pitch. That is all we can be focused on."

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