According to a report by James Ducker of The Telegraph, D.C. United striker Wayne Rooney is in talks with Derby County about a return to English football as a player-coach for the Championship club.
Derby County signed former Barcelona player Phillip Cocu as manager on a four-year contract in the wake of Frank Lampard‘s departure, and the club may look to capitalize on Rooney’s solid Major League Soccer form by bringing him on as a player while also getting his feet wet in the coaching ranks.
According to the report, Rooney’s agent Paul Stretford has already met with the club and plans to continue talks in the coming days. Yesterday the Sun had reported that Rooney was thinking about a possible return to Manchester United in a coaching role alongside Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but this would see him able to continue his playing while also learning the coaching ropes. He has two years remaining on his D.C. United contract that runs through December of 2021.
Rooney looked behind the pace during his final Premier League season with Everton in 2017/18, but he joined D.C. United that summer and has seen somewhat of a revival. During his time in MLS, Rooney has scored 23 goals in 44 matches while dotting the highlight reel with spectacular strikes including one from the midway line.
It’s possible that Derby believes Rooney has something to offer on the pitch while also beginning his coaching career, serving as an asset on the field while also potentially learning to follow-up Cocu should he not impress or be lured away after a period of success. For time on the field, Rooney would compete with 29-year-old opening day starter Martyn Waghorn, 30-year-old Championship veteran Chris Martin, and 24-year-old Jack Marriott for time at the striker position.
Derby signed Lampard to his first managerial job back in May of last year, and it was a smashing success, with Derby reaching the Championship playoff final before losing to Aston Villa to agonizingly miss out on Premier League promotion. Lampard left after just the one year to serve as manager of Chelsea, and now Derby owner Mel Morris could be looking to add yet another high profile former England star.