Manchester United have dismissed claims they will sell Wayne Rooney during the January transfer window as "nonsense".
Rooney was left on the bench by Sir Alex Ferguson for Saturday's Premier League clash with West Brom, and only introduced 19 minutes from the end of the 2-2 draw. Even then, Rooney was consigned to the left wing, leading to more intense speculation about the 24-year-old's relationship with Ferguson.
But a club spokesman said: "To suggest Wayne Rooney will be sold in January is nonsense,"
United are aware even that statement could be seized upon and interpreted as opening up the possibility for Rooney to be sold at the end of the season, when his contract will only have 12 months to run.
It is not their policy to talk about contract negotiations in public either and that stance has not changed. However, privately they remain steadfast in their belief that Rooney will eventually sign an extension that will make him one of the club's highest earners.
Ferguson has said little about his star striker in the last few days and totally avoided the issue after Saturday's match.
Yet, purely by leaving him on the bench just days after Rooney astonishingly contradicted his boss by stating he has not been suffering from an ankle injury, the Scot was delivering a damning verdict on the player's recent performances.
What is not known is the reason Rooney opted to speak with the media immediately after England's goalless draw with Montenegro when it would have been far easier to remain silent.
If Rooney took the decision upon himself, it would appear he has been naive given the number of high-profile players who have been drummed out of Old Trafford after clashing with Ferguson.
However, if the move was premeditated, it leaves open the possibility that Rooney himself sees his future away from United, in which case the club would want to maximise their income, as they did with Cristiano Ronaldo.