It feels like no footballer has been linked with a move to China more than the recently retired Wayne Rooney. In every transfer window there would be a Chinese Super League club in the frame to sign him and another eye-watering offer on the table. The biggest was revealed by Piers Morgan in a Daily Mail column, where he recounted a call from Rooney on February 20, 2016. China Big-money moves Why does Wayne Rooney feel he must prove himself? pic.twitter.com/XQ93luBCD0 — Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) February 22, 2018 “My phone rang at 11pm. It was England football captain Wayne Rooney. “He wanted to discuss his forthcoming Manchester United testimonial plans this summer. But we also talked about reports in the papers this week that he’s been offered ridiculous sums of money to go and play in China for Shanghai [SIPG], a team managed by Sven-Goran Eriksson. “He then revealed a figure, based on a three-year deal, so stupendously, stratospherically gigantic that it did indeed make me feel instantly nauseous. Rooney shunned ‘easy’ China money to keep his fire to play “Without giving too much away, let’s just say it included eight noughts. I literally gasped in horror, prompting him to add a final killer blow. After tax!” There were plenty of other offers, though not all for £100 million (US$142 million), at a time when the Chinese Super League was shoving hard cash at becoming a sporting soft power. The winter transfer window ahead of the 2016 CSL season saw Chinese clubs outspend every other league in the world, splashing out nearly 2 billion yuan (US$287 million) on players. Few finer players in Premier League history than @WayneRooney . Now snubbed £100m China offer to return to club of his heart. Love that. pic.twitter.com/KO9YFaEEWt — Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) July 9, 2017 Rooney, of course, was among those linked with a move. The Daily Mirror reported that Manchester United were willing to take £27 million from Shanghai Shenhua for a 30-year-old they had paid the same fee for as a teenager. Rooney was offered £500,000 per week, they said. A year later in February 2017, Rooney’s agent Paul Stretford was in China shopping the record Manchester United and England scorer around. Rooney and Iniesta refusing to fade away highlights lack of polish in China Beijing Guoan and Jiangsu Suning both denied reports but Tianjin Quanjian confirmed they made an approach, as coach Fabio Cannavaro told Tianjin TV that month. “We did make an approach for Rooney, but it was just a chat because he simply doesn’t suit our style of play. No further discussion was necessary.” Rooney dodged a bullet. Nothing distils the Icarus-like nature of Chinese football’s recent boom, then bust, as much as Tianjin Quanjian. Their run under Cannavaro from the second tier to the AFC Champions League with players such as Axel Witsel, Pato and Anthony Modeste was financed by a herbal medicine giant. The club has since disappeared , falling apart like its owners’ pyramid scheme . Still the offers came, with the Daily Mail reporting on at least two separate multimillion offers. The 31-year-old was said to be “seriously considering two Chinese Super League offers worth £50m over two years. Even by Rooney’s standards, that is a life-changing sum.” Wayne Rooney ditches MLS for fresh tilt at the top – and he’s not the first Unlike his former Manchester United teammate Carlos Tevez, Rooney never went to China, instead choosing boyhood club Everton when he left Manchester United that July. “In the summer when I was leaving Manchester United it would have been quite easy for me to go abroad,” he told the BBC in February 2018. “Go to China, go somewhere else and pick up a lot of money and see out the last few years of my career. The links would continue but Rooney would snub China again when he went to the MLS from Everton, shining briefly for DC United before moving to Derby County as player-coach, then player-manager and now full-time manager. Over the past few years Rooney was linked to Shanghai Shenhua, city rivals SIPG, Beijing Guoan, Tianjin Quanjian, Jiangsu Suning and Guangzhou Evergrande. They all wanted to sign Rooney, it seemed. As someone close to Rooney told The Times in February 2016, “Wayne is one of the top players in the world and clubs in the CSL have made their intent clear, so it would be strange if they hadn’t made inquiries about him.” No Gareth Bale so who has won the CSL transfer window? While that source said, “Under no circumstances would he consider the option of going to China presently”, Rooney’s then Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho discussed a move to China as if it was a real possibility 12 months later. “It is up to him,” Mourinho said. “I don’t like to be critical of those who go to China. It is their life. The money is huge; the experience can also be interesting.” Now, the money is nowhere near as huge, which might make the experience less interesting. ‘There will be no big names in Chinese football,’ warns former CSL player Coincidentally, Rooney’s retirement comes at the same time as the latest curb on “irrational spending” by Chinese clubs. This season’s salary cap has come on top of other measures including a prohibitive transfer tax. The star names are turning their backs on China. “Rooney won’t leave United for another year or two,” Morgan would conclude in his February 2016 column. “But one thing is for sure, the Chinese are coming for world football and as with everything they do in business, they seem to have almost limitless sums of cash with which to dominate it.” Those days, like Rooney’s playing career, are over.