PSG fuel talk of mega bid for Rooney

Frank Dalleres
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  • But new French tax laws may hit move
  • And club play down Wenger interest

PARIS Saint-Germain have fuelled speculation of a blockbusting move for Wayne Rooney after the football club’s president Nasser Al-Khelaifi publicly declared their interest in the Manchester United striker.

Suggestions that Rooney’s 11-year career at Old Trafford could come to an end in the summer gathered pace last month after he was left out of United’s starting line-up for the Champions League defeat to Real Madrid.

Al-Khelaifi, who also played down talk of attempting to lure Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to the mega-rich Ligue 1 club, yesterday admitted to being an admirer of the £40m-rated England star, 27.

But he insisted no contact had yet been made with United regarding Rooney, while France’s impending 75 per cent tax rate on salaries in excess of €1m could yet curtail PSG’s previously lavish spending.

“He is a great player,” Al-Khelaifi said of Rooney. “He is one of the best strikers in the world. I think everybody would like to have him but, if you want to talk about the fact, we didn’t approach him.”

Wenger has been mooted as a possible replacement for PSG’s current manager, former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti, but Al-Khelaifi reiterated the club’s faith in the Italian.

“Arsene Wenger is a great manager. He is doing a great job with Arsenal and he has got a contract for another year I believe,” he added. “I cannot talk on his behalf and I do not know what he will decide, but we are very satisfied with Carlo Ancelotti.”

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault’s office yesterday confirmed that the controversial 75 per cent tax rate would apply to football clubs, following debate about its legality.

Players earning more than €500,000 will continue to be taxed at the top rate of 49 per cent, but clubs will have to pay the extra to bring it to an effective 75 per cent.

French league chiefs warned yesterday that such “crazy labour costs” would cost top-flight teams a combined €82m and prompt an exodus of star talent, leading to a decline in their teams’ competitiveness in European competitions.

PSG, who have spent more than €200m on players since their 2011 takeover by Qatar Sports Investment, an arm of the Gulf state, are better placed to cope with the tax hike than their domestic rivals.

However, maintaining their current wage bill would add tens of millions onto their annual spending and impede their ability to meet European football’s financial fair play rules, which clubs must adhere to or risk being banned from the Champions League.