Football

Rooney close to Everton homecoming

Striker's agent spotted in London for reported talks with Toffees chairman Kenwright

Wayne Rooney's agent has reportedly held talks with Everton over a proposed return to Goodison Park from Manchester United on a free transfer.

Exclusive pictures taken by the Daily Mirror on Wednesday showed Paul Stretford arriving at Everton chairman Bill Kenwright's office in London.

The 31-year-old is contracted to the Red Devils until 2019, but it has been reported that he could be granted an early release, to return to his former club on a free transfer.

He has also not been included in United's squad for their pre-season tour of the United States, according to reports, with the party due to leave on Sunday.

Both clubs were unavailable for comment when contacted by Press Association Sport.

Rooney is seen as part of the Romelu Lukaku deal which will see the Belgium striker joining Man United for a fee of £75 million (S$134m), according to British media yesterday.

The Daily Mail reported that Everton are hopeful of "thrashing out a deal" for Rooney while The Guardian noted that with one year remaining on his contract, United may demand a transfer fee but not a sizeable one for the player who joined the club in 2004 for £27m.

The paper also said the deal would also lighten United's annual wage bill by £13m.

The development comes after months of speculation over the former England captain's future.

His 2016-17 campaign was largely a frustrating one.

The forward started just 15 Premier League games under United boss Jose Mourinho and lost his place in the England side.

ACHIEVEMENT

The notable bright spot came when he overtook Sir Bobby Charlton's club goalscoring record in January, an achievement that came just over a year after he also claimed the England record.

However, he failed a hold down a role in Mourinho's team and was heavily linked with moves to China and the United States, as well as a return to Everton.

It is the latter option that appears to have proved the most appealing, having never lost touch with his roots.

As those talks remain ongoing, the Liverpool Echo reported yesterday that Rooney is set to move home into a £10m country mansion, which puts him closer to Merseyside.

Rooney and his wife Coleen are buying a soon-to-be-built six-bedroom house in the heart of the Cheshire countryside.

The home, in Knutsford, would be around a 40-minute drive from Everton's training ground at Finch Farm, Halewood.

The Mirror reported the luxury property, which is being built on the site of a demolished farm, will boast stables for 15 horses and a six-car garage.

Rooney burst onto the scene as a precocious teenager with the Toffees, scoring 15 goals in 67 appearances.

He made his debut at the age of 16 at the start of the 2002-03 season and was picked for England within months.

He went on to excel at Euro 2004 and was snapped up by United soon after, moving to Old Trafford as an 18-year-old in a £27m deal.

In the years since, he has been one of the club's most influential players, winning five Premier League titles and the Champions League in 2008.

If a transfer goes through, he will leave with 253 United goals to his name.

Rooney would also be Everton's fifth major signing of what is shaping up to be a busy summer for the Merseysiders.

Deals for Michael Keane, Davy Klaassen, Sandro Ramirez and Jordan Pickford have already been completed, with Olivier Giroud and Gylfi Sigurdsson also linked. - WIRE SERVICES

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