New Manchester United manager David Moyes was adamant yesterday that striker Wayne Rooney was not for sale but stopped short of saying the player had changed his mind about wanting to leave.
The issue dominated the Scot's first news conference since he took over from the retired Alex Ferguson. His predecessor said in May that the England international had asked for a transfer.
"I've had a chance to speak to Wayne ... the fact of the matter is Wayne is not for sale," Moyes said at Old Trafford, home of the Premier League champions.
"He is a Manchester United player and will remain a Manchester United player. I've known Wayne since he was 16 ... he's training very well, he's come back in good shape and I really look forward to working with him."
Moyes was repeatedly asked about Rooney, including direct questions such as: "Has he told you he would like to stay at Manchester United?" but failed to give a 'yes' or 'no' answer.
"What we are doing at the moment is we are looking to see how we can get Wayne Rooney getting those goals which are going to challenge the likes of Bobby Charlton and Denis Law's [total] number," said Moyes. "As far as I'm concerned, the way he's working I'm more than happy to work with him and make sure we get success."
Rooney has scored 197 goals in 402 United appearances. Charlton holds the club's all-time record of 249 with Law on 237.
Moyes's answers will have done little to extinguish the media speculation over the future of Rooney who suffered a dip in form following the arrival of Robin van Persie as United's leading striker last season.
Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo has denied speculation he will return to United next season, claiming his future lies with Real Madrid.
Speaking at an event in Monaco he said that rumours of an imminent return to Old Trafford were wide of the mark.
"It's a club [United] that's been in my heart since I was there so everyone knows that I have a passion for that club but my future now is at Real Madrid and I want to be there," said the Portugal forward.
"It's not the best day to speak about my future. I'm going to have time to speak about that at the beginning of the season.
"Basically it's [time] to rest [after] 10 months of a hard season. It's basically to rest, to be with my family, my kid, my girlfriend and to rest.
"Just to rest, do a lot of the beach, massage, playing a little tennis, that's it."
Reuters, Agence France-Presse