Roberto Mancini has downplayed talk that Wayne Rooney could join Manchester City and believes it would be tough for the England international to leave Old Trafford for the Etihad Stadium.
Sir Alex Ferguson has insisted that Rooney will be at Manchester United next season but the 27-year-old’s future was put into question after he was omitted from the starting line-up for Tuesday’s Champions League defeat to Real Madrid.
When Rooney seemed likely to leave United in October 2010, City were interested and the Etihad seemed his likeliest destination, but now Mancini thinks it is improbable he will cross Manchester to sign for the Premier League champions.
“I think that Rooney is one of the best strikers in Europe but I think it is difficult for him to leave Manchester United,” he said.
And the Italian, while sympathising with the dropped Rooney, believes the controversy surrounding Ferguson’s selection for the Madrid match will soon die down.
“I don’t know this situation. I can understand Rooney would be upset if he didn’t play but these are things that can happen in every team. After one week, it is finished,” he said.
Mancini believes United’s Champions League exit is bad news for City, who are 12 points behind their rivals in the title race and hoping the league leaders slip up, while they are the two favourites for the FA Cup.
“It is clear now it is worse for us. Now they can put all their strength into the championship,” he said. “I think for us it was better they stayed in the Champions League. They would have played an important game every three days. It is more difficult.”