Everton manager Ronald Koeman has opened the door for Wayne Rooney to return to Goodison Park.
Manchester United’s record goal scorer has been linked with a move back to his boyhood club, having struggled to hold down a regular place under Jose Mourinho.
Rooney’s agent was in China this month, assessing the player’s options, but the 31-year-old last week issued a statement insisting he was staying at Old Trafford.
However, his long-term future remains in doubt, and Koeman is ready to make a move in the summer to bring Rooney back to where it all began.
“I believe that Wayne Rooney is still playing at a high level,” the Dutchman told Sky Sports. “I think he made a good choice to stay at Manchester United and in the Premier League because he has still two or three years in front of him to play on a high level.
“What will happen at the end of the season? I don’t know but in my opinion he is one of the players who can make Everton stronger.
“It’s all about what the player likes, what Manchester United needs to do, and we are not involved in that project.
Wayne Rooney has scored two Premier League goals this season.
“But every player that we at Everton think can make the team stronger is welcome to Everton.”
Rooney progressed through the ranks in the Toffees’ academy, having joined at the age of nine, and his rise accelerated in his mid-teens as he moved from the youth side to become a first-team regular.
He made his debut aged 16 on the opening day of the 2002-03 campaign against Tottenham and six weeks later became Everton’s youngest scorer with two goals against Wrexham in the League Cup. He scored his first Premier League goal a fortnight later,a last-minute winner against Arsenal five days before his 17th birthday.
Everton were unable to hang on to Rooney when United came in the summer of 2004 but there is now a prospect of him making the move back to Merseyside.