Man City talks with Rooney revealed by former chief executive Cook

Man City talks with Rooney revealed by former chief executive Cook

The England striker was open to joining his side’s local rivals before deciding to sign a new contract at Old Trafford

Former Manchester City CEO Garry Cook has revealed the extent of the club’s attempts to sign Wayne Rooney from Manchester United.

England striker Rooney joined the Red Devils in 2004 and his prolific displays soon saw him linked with several top sides, including their local rivals as well as Spanish giants Barcelona.

And Cook, who joined City as chief executive in 2008 and spent three years there, says Rooney was open to moving to the Sky Blues, only for United to convince him to sign a new contract and stay at Old Trafford for the long-term.

“[Rooney’s agent] Paul Stretford, who I love dearly, is a great guy,” Cook told The Athletic.

“We’d always approached him and said: ‘would there ever be opportunity? Would you ever think about it?’ You’re always trying to find a way.

“[United chief executive] David Gill knew we were talking and that we’d had that conversation. And Paul told us: ‘we’re not averse to it, we’re going through a bit of a [contract] negotiation right now, but it’s not going well because they don’t want to sit down and talk to Wayne.’

“I think David, who is one of the most upstanding guys, always had confidence Wayne wasn’t going to go. For United, it was a case of: ‘let’s not let this get out of control, let’s get a grip of it before something stupid happens.’

“But we had conversations with Paul and we had a situation where I felt very confident. [Rooney] was part of our discussions within our internal team.

“‘There’s an opportunity,’ I said, ‘I think we should go for it.’ We pushed on the accelerator and that’s when we got the call from Paul saying Wayne had been locked away with Alex and they were going to do a deal.

“Apparently Alex had cancelled his training session, walked into a room and said: ‘right, you’re not leaving here until we figure this out.’

“Everybody was doing their job correctly. We were trying to get one of the best players in the world. They were trying to hold on to one of the best players in the world and his agent was trying to get the best deal.”

Rooney, now 34 years old, remained at United until 2017, until he returned to boyhood club Everton for a season and then opted for a move to the United States with DC United. In January, he will go back to England to take up a role as a player-coach at Championship side Derby.