Wayne Rooney will have to wait until the end of the MLS season to find out if DC United are willing to offer him a contract extension to stay on as manager as he admitted he “can’t stop speculation” linking him with a move to Birmingham City.
The former England captain is in his second season in charge in Washington, but his contract expires in December and the club has not yet engaged in talks about signing a new deal.
The situation has left Rooney “disappointed and frustrated” but has put other clubs on high alert to his possible availability.
Telegraph Sport revealed this week that Rooney is a target for Birmingham’s new American owners if John Eustace leaves the Championship side.
On Saturday night, Rooney said: “The contract situation, it is what it is, and that can wait until the end of the season. Unfortunately I can’t stop speculation, that happens, but my only focus is to try and get DC United into the playoffs.”
DC United have won nine, drawn seven and lost 12 league games this season, with the team sitting ninth in the table and clinging onto the final playoff spot.
Club insiders point to those results and precarious league position as reason enough not to offer a new deal at this stage of the campaign.
His side, which features former Leeds midfielder Mateusz Klich and former Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke, were wasteful in front of goal on Saturday evening, drawing 0-0 at home to the San Jose Earthquakes.
Rooney cut an exasperated figure on the touchline as a string of chances were squandered in the second half.
Last week, in an interview with the Washington Post, Rooney said that he first made contact with club officials about a new deal two months ago, but has heard nothing since then.
“I am slightly disappointed and frustrated that there has been no contact for two months,” he said. “We asked about a new deal. We can sit down and talk about it. We haven’t heard back. Either way, I can take whatever the situation is. I was hoping we would have, either way, at least spoken about it. That hasn’t been the case.
“We asked to sit down and speak because planning for next season needs to go ahead. So we asked two months ago where everything was at, are we moving forward or not moving forward — if that’s the case from their point of view — and we haven’t heard back.
“That’s frustrating because, either way, I’d rather know what’s the plan because we have to plan for next season. We need to do it earlier rather than later. The fact we haven’t heard back is probably signalling one thing, but I’m sure they’ll have their reasons for that. So I’ll wait and see.”
It appeared that the situation was unchanged on Saturday night, which came just a day after his name was strongly linked with a return home to the UK.
Birmingham are unbeaten so far this season under Eustace, but US-based Shelby Companies Limited (SCL) have discussed making a big-name appointment after completing their takeover in July.
SCL are an affiliate of Knighthead Capital Management, who have links to seven-times Superbowl winner Tom Brady.
Birmingham’s chief executive officer is Garry Cook, who held a similar role at Manchester City and is close with Rooney’s camp.
Birmingham have recorded three wins and two draws under Eustace this season, leaving them fourth in the championship. There is no suggestion that Eustace is close to being sacked, but he was linked with jobs at Rangers and Swansea this summer so checks have been made on Rooney’s availability.