England striker Wayne Rooney admits he is “ecstatic” after confirming his return to boyhood club Everton following 13 glittering years at Manchester United.
Rooney has signed a two-year contract with the Toffees after moving on a free transfer from United, where he won every major club title and became the club’s record scorer with 253 goals.
The 31-year-old had to make do with a fringe role at United last season but is eager to revive his career at the club where he burst onto the scene as a precociously gifted teenager.
“It’s a great feeling to be back,” said Rooney, who revealed that his enduring love for his old club extended to wearing Everton pyjamas at home.
“I’m excited. I cannot wait to meet the lads, get on the training pitch and then get on the pitch to play. I’m ecstatic. I just cannot wait to get back playing.”
Everton manager Ronald Koeman insists that Rooney can still be a force in the Premier League, despite an apparent decline last term.
“Wayne has shown me that ambition we need and that winning mentality,” said Koeman. “He loves Everton and was desperate to come back. He’s still only 31 and I don’t have any doubts about his qualities.”
United boss Jose Mourinho called Rooney “a model professional” and said he had accepted the player’s request to return to Goodison Park.
“It is never easy to see a great player playing less football than he would like and I could not stand in his way when he asked to go back to Everton,” he added.
Lukaku lauds United
United are poised to fill the void left by Rooney and last season’s injured top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic by completing the signing of Romelu Lukaku from Everton for a fee that could rise to a world record £90m.
The 24-year-old had been expected to rejoin Chelsea this summer but United beat the champions to an agreement with Everton and Lukaku says he needed no persuasion.
“Who would say no to the biggest club in the world?” he said. “The best stadium in England, the best fans. It’s the perfect opportunity. It’s a club that is hungry to win the league again, to be dominant in the world again. It’s the sort of opportunity I’ve always wanted since a child.”
Chelsea land £35m Rudiger
Chelsea remain in the market for a striker, with Diego Costa set to depart, but confirmed their first major signing of the summer in the form of Germany defender Antonio Rudiger
Rudiger, 24, joins from Roma for a fee that could rise to £35m and is well suited to Antonio Conte’s favoured three-man defence as he can play in the centre or at full-back.
“It’s a great feeling because not every player has the opportunity to join a huge club like this,” he said. “I am looking forward to meeting up with my new team-mates and I’m very proud to officially become a Chelsea player.”
The Blues, who have already signed former Manchester City goalkeeper Willy Caballero as back-up to Thibaut Courtois, are also expected to recruit midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco.