Wayne Rooney said he had plenty of offers as he sought a return to England but the opportunity to work as a player-coach under Derby manager Phillip Cocu was “too great to turn down”.
The Rams on Tuesday completed a surprise move for the former England captain, who will join Derby in January 2020 on an initial 18-month contract that allows him to continue his playing career but also build his credentials as a future manager.
Rooney, who admitted his family’s situation was key to the decision to cut short his American adventure, will see out the MLS season with DC United before heading to Pride Park.
“There were other clubs making offers and enquiring about me but I made the decision to come here and that was it, I wasn’t going to go back on my decision,” Rooney said.
“The opportunity to come back to England and play, but also to take up a coaching role with the club and work under Phillip, was too great for me to turn down.”
Rooney has made no secret of his ambitions to move into management once his playing days are over, but insisted he still has plenty to give on the pitch.
“Firstly I’m a player,” he said. “I feel I’ve got a lot of quality I can bring to the squad.
“First and foremost I’m coming to play and to help the team, and second I want to learn off Phillip and his staff, to gain experience for when I do stop playing and go on to that next step.”
The intensity of the Championship fixture list could come as a shock to the 33-year-old’s system after 18 months in the United States, and Rooney admitted he may not be able to play every match.
“Football is what I have done my whole life and what I love,” he said. “I will keep playing until my body says I can’t anymore.
“I’m a player who knows their body. I’m experienced enough to know if I need to sit out a game.”
Rooney has seen a number of his former England team-mates move into management of late, most recently Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, but said that was not the source of his own ambitions.
“I think it’s great to see them going into management but it’s not just about what they’re doing now,” he said.
“This is something I always had as an ambition to do. It’s great these young English managers are getting opportunities.
“Over the last 15 or 20 years we’ve not seen so many great ex-England players coming through so it’s great to see them doing that.”
Indeed, Lampard was the Derby manager until he moved to Chelsea earlier this summer, and Rooney’s arrival alongside that of Cocu continues owner Mel Morris’ approach of appointing high-profile names in pursuit of returning the club to the Premier League.
Morris said the deal to sign Rooney would benefit Derby both on and off the pitch, and said the contract had already led to a “record-breaking sponsorship deal” with the club’s existing shirt sponsor 32Red.
While no direct link was confirmed, it is notable that Rooney’s squad number at Pride Park will be 32.
That may be key in helping Derby pay Rooney’s wages while remaining within Financial Fair Play rules.
“We’ve maintained all along that we want to be compliant with FFP and I don’t see anything in this deal that would change that,” Morris said on TalkSport.
Though Rooney will cut short his United contract, Derby will not be required to pay a transfer fee as the American club accepted his request to be allowed to return to England.
“After speaking to Wayne and understanding his difficult situation of being so far away from his family, we have accepted that this is the best decision for all parties,” the club’s co-chairmen Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien said in a statement.
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Arsenal‘s Laurent koscielny is set to join Ligue 1 side Bordeaux in a deal worth a reported £5million, PA understands.
The Gunners captain will have a medical at the French club before the deal is confirmed.
The club and koscielny were thought to be in talks over a new contract but it is understood the defender was keen to return to France.
This summer koscielny refused to go on the club’s pre-season tour to the United States and put in a request to have his contract terminated to allow him to join another club, which was rejected by the Gunners.
The Frenchman joined Arsenal in 2010 from Lorient and went on to make 353 appearances, and was awarded the captaincy in the 2016-17 season.
With the departure of koscielny, Arsenal will be in the market for a defender and have been linked with Juventus defender Daniele Rugani and RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano.
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Derby were remaining tight-lipped on Tuesday over reports they are finalising a move for former England captain Wayne Rooney.
News of the Rams’ supposed interest in the 33-year-old emerged shortly before they opened their new Championship campaign with a 2-1 victory away at Huddersfield on Monday night.
Rooney has been linked with a possible player-coach role at Pride Park – where his former England team-mate Frank Lampard was given his first opportunity in management last year.
Pictures appeared on social media on Tuesday morning of Rooney at Heathrow airport having flown in from Washington DC, where he currently plays for MLS side DC United.
The Rams refused to confirm or deny Rooney was headed for talks with the Championship club when contacted by PA on Tuesday.
When asked about the links with the former Everton and Manchester United striker following Monday’s win over Huddersfield, Derby boss Phillip Cocu was coy.
“I’m sorry, I can’t say (anything). There are still three days and the market’s open,” said the Dutchman, who replaced Lampard earlier this summer after the former Chelsea midfielder returned to take charge at Stamford Bridge.
“I’ve said before that we’re not done and we’re working to get the team complete, but I cannot talk about any names at this moment.
“We have a lot of players we think could be an asset for the team, you try to get the best you can with resources you have at the club.
“A few more days and hopefully I can tell you something more.”
Rooney joined DC United last summer on a three-and-a-half-year contract after one season with boyhood club Everton.
Reports suggest a deal with Derby could be confirmed as early as Tuesday, with the Championship transfer window set to close at the same time as the Premier League’s on Thursday at 5pm (GST: 8pm).
Rooney is England’s all-time record scorer with 53 goals in 120 appearances, as well as Manchester United’s record goalscorer with 253 goals in 559 appearances.
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