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The club were surprised when Rooney handed in his transfer but now believe it offers the one possibility of prising Bale away from White Hart Lane.
A bid of £26 million plus Rooney would be seen as almost impossible to resist by the Spurs’ board – solving, as it does, the club’s long-term weakness in the striker department and bringing in cash for a creative midfielder.
United, who have all but given up their pursuit of Ronaldo, see Bale as the next best alternative, but would be loath to meet Spur’s £60 million valuation out of cash resources.
Rooney, who is desperate to return to a central strikers role, is still waiting to meet new manager David Moyes to see if such a role can be guaranteed next season. Those close to Moyes say it can not.
Although United are unwilling to sell Rooney, the idea of using him to recruit a player of Bale’s calibre is not without attraction.