Jose Mourinho has categorically ruled out the prospect of selling out-of-favour Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney.
The forward, who turns 31 on Monday, started his side’s 4-1 Europa League win over Fenerbahce on Thursday but has been left out of the first XI for the last three Premier League matches.
Rooney’s decline has prompted suggestions that United could look to cash in on the player, with reported interest emerging in the lucrative Chinese Super League.
Mourinho, however, says he would never make the decision to bring Rooney’s United career to an end given his achievements since he joined from Everton in 2004.
“No, never. I will never make that decision,” he told Sky Sports News.
“A player of his stature, a player of his history in the club will never get to a point where the club or manager want to make that decision for him.
“I put him on the bench for three matches in a row. That is hard for him, hard for me, so that is being ruthless, to put in my mind the interests of the team in front of the player, prestige, status. In this case even a legend. To put on the bench a player with the numbers he has for club and country is hard.
“But as we were saying before, this is an industry where the people who lead, sometimes in a correct decision, sometimes not correct decisions, but in our mind the decisions we think is the best for the team.”
Mourinho believes that a constant change in position for Rooney in recent years, especially under Louis van Gaal and Roy Hodgson with England, has contributed to his malaise.
“I think it then created a bit of a doubt in relation to his role, to his position, to his future and I think players especially in moments of less confidence, they need to be clear in his head,” he said.
“He cannot be jumping from number six to number nine, or number nine to number 10, or number nine to number six. For me, he is an attacking player.
“Play number six, play in midfield, not with me unless we need it and unless we ask him to do that, but with me, I want the ideas completely clear. He is a second striker, plays behind the striker or as a striker. That’s what I think is Wayne Rooney.”
Mourinho also suggested that Rooney’s past success has created unfair expectation levels among supporters and the media.
“I think he’s paying for his success,” he said. “He had so many successes in his career. He brought his expectation levels to such a level that people probably think he has to perform in every match, every week, every month, every season at the same level. For me, that’s a problem.
“I think in this country it happens to everyone, it is just your nature. You build people, you kill people, you build again and you destroy again! And I think it is just the nature of the business, especially in football.”