MANCHESTER United striker Wayne Rooney looks increasingly likely to leave the club amid suggestions his relationship with manager Sir Alex Ferguson has deteriorated beyond repair.
The prospect of one of the most sensational transfers in the history of British football has increased dramatically with Rooney said to have told United he will not resume contract talks and wants to move clubs.
Ferguson will come under increasing pressure to sell the England star in January or risk his value in the transfer market dropping by the month as his contract approaches its expiry in summer 2012.
Wealthy Manchester City are tipped as the most likely domestic bidders for a player who would be expected to fetch more than £50m, but a move abroad may be more appealing to United, with Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid both strong candidates.
Rooney, 24, has received unwelcome media attention in recent months following allegations of infidelity, while his form has dipped dramatically. He has not scored a goal in open play for United since March and endured a miserable World Cup campaign with England over the summer.
He has been dropped by Ferguson, who blamed his absence on an ankle injury. Rooney then publicly contradicted that version of events last week while on international duty, saying he had never had a problem with his ankle. That only served to increase suspicions he was dropped by Ferguson as punishment for his off-field behaviour. Rooney joined United from Everton for £25m in 2004.