• Premier League

Neville: United 'mad' to sell Rooney

ESPN staff
August 13, 2013
Wayne Rooney has teamed up with the England squad despite being unfit for Manchester United © Getty Images

England assistant manager Gary Neville warned Manchester United they "would be mad" to sell Wayne Rooney.

The want-away striker is currently in the national team camp preparing for the friendly against Scotland, while suitors Chelsea continue their chase for the 27-year-old.

But Neville believes it would be a mistake for his former club to allow the "most important player in the Premier League" to leave Old Trafford.

"Manchester United, at this moment in time, would be mad to sell him," Neville told the Daily Mail. "Along with Robin Van Persie, he has been the most successful player in terms of goals and assists in the last five years of the Premier League.

"Even last year, which you could argue was a year he was below his best, but he was playing in midfield, playing right side, left side, he still had 22 goals and assists. He is a massive contributor to games and you can't replace personalities. There are very few personalities in football now, big personalities, fighters, he is one of them.

Rooney fit for England

"You can't just buy them, you might argue you could replace them in respect of the numbers he creates but in terms of personality, what he brings, very difficult to replace him.

"I could argue in the last eight years, he has been the most important player in the Premier League. Why would I be over the top by stating that? He is one of the most successful players in the last eight years, won the most championships in that period, been an ever present, played in every single game nearly every season.

"Scoring 20 plus goals in most of them, assisting, fighting for every single ball in every single game. The evidence is there - they don't grow on trees Wayne Rooneys."

The transfer saga surrounding Rooney threatens to overshadow the start of United's title defence, with Chelsea claiming they will continue to pursue the striker while Rooney himself is prepared to submit a transfer request to realise the move.

However, United are refusing to budge in their stance of retaining the England forward and Neville believes that if Rooney stays, club and player can again become a productive relationship.

"He went through a situation two or three years ago if you remember," Neville said. "It was quite a public situation but he still continued to want to play football. We are all big enough to understand that players want to leave football clubs, I think there is a way to leave a football club.

"If Manchester United decide not to sell him I think that he will go about his business in absolutely the way he has done previously. He's a street footballer, he's someone who, even now, speaking to people last week, he is training hard, he wants to play, wants to do well, keeps his professionalism about him.

"I don't see how Manchester United can sell him at this moment in time. I really don't because they won't be able to replace him."

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