Jose Mourinho insists he would never force legend Wayne Rooney out of Manchester United as the club captain continues his recovery from injury.
Rooney will again be absent for United’s Europa League clash with Saint-Etienne on Wednesday through injury, but his involvement has been limited since Mourinho arrived at Old Trafford at the end of May.
While the England international, who has been linked with a move to China, has started just eight Premier League games this term, the United manager is adamant that it would be Rooney’s choice if he were to leave.
“You’ll have to ask him [Rooney if he will stay next season],” he told a pre-match news conference on Tuesday.
“I can’t guarantee that I am here next week, how can I guarantee that a player is here next season? If Wayne does leave, it is not because I want him to leave, that is all I can guarantee.
“I will never try and push a legend of this club to another destiny.”
Rooney has already missed two games with a knock, and while Mourinho is encouraged by his progress – the player having returned to training on Tuesday – he is focused on other players who can help his side on Wednesday.
“[Rooney] is injured, I cannot do miracles at that level,” the United boss said. “We have made great improvements in the last year with the medical department and getting the players back into competition.
“That is a clear improvement in the medical department from recent years, it is easy to see with data in that area. But Rooney is injured, he [has been] injured for two or three weeks.
“When you don’t have a player, you have others. The team is in a good moment. In the past few months we’ve lost only one game and it was one we could lose as it was a two-legged match.”
United lead 3-0 after the first leg, in which Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a hat-trick, and will look to progress before turning their attentions to Sunday’s EFL Cup final against Southampton.
“I want to win tomorrow and then, at 9pm tomorrow, I am focused on the final on Sunday,” Mourinho added.