Derby County are confident they can sign Wayne Rooney from MLS side DC United, with the former England captain set to continue his playing career while working towards his goal of becoming a football manager, club owner Mel Morris said on Tuesday.
British media reported on Monday that the 33-year-old was in advanced talks to join the second-tier club managed last season by Rooney’s former England teammate Frank Lampard, as a player-coach despite having two years left on his contract at DC United.
The former Manchester United and Everton striker arrived at Derby’s training ground on Tuesday to work out a deal and is likely to join the club in January, Sky Sports reported.
“Wayne is coming here to play for the club, but he’s also wanting to accelerate his coaching badges… a key thing for him, his long-term career ambitions, is to become a manager,” Morris told Sky Sports.
If a deal is done, Rooney will become the latest member of England’s so-called “Golden Generation” of players to take their first steps towards management following the likes of Lampard and Rangers manager Steven Gerrard.
Lampard has since taken over at his former club Chelsea, having guided Derby to the playoff final last season.
“Our time with Lampard was great because it demonstrated our willingness to give people time, to work with them and give them time to develop. I think Wayne sees Derby as a good place to do that,” Morris said.
Morris suggested that an announcement was imminent after Rooney held discussions with Derby’s Dutch boss Phillip Cocu.
Rooney was an admirer of Dutch manager Louis van Gaal’s coaching methods at Manchester United and is convinced Cocu can provide a similar learning experience.
“The conversation he had with Cocu was absolutely critical to the interest Wayne has,” Morris told talkSPORT.
“It’s never done until it’s done, but we’re focused and keen to get this over the line this morning… I’m sure once people hear of this you are inevitably going to get (other) interest… I’m confident this is something we’ll get sorted out.
“His playing career has been phenomenal. He’s demonstrated his leadership qualities in America. Who wouldn’t want at least the opportunity for this? I can guarantee Cocu is as excited as I am about it.”