MANCHESTER - Manchester United manager David Moyes says his club have not made an offer for Tottenham Hotspur forward Gareth Bale, but he refused to deny an interest in the player.
Bale is poised to join Real Madrid for a world-record fee after several months of courtship by the Spanish giants, but reports emerged in the British media on Monday that a rival club had also shown an interest.
When asked if United had submitted a bid for Bale on Monday, Moyes told reporters: "No".
However, he added: "Manchester United are always interested in the best players and the board and myself would always be looking to sign who we think are the best players, wherever they are."
Moyes was speaking after a goalless draw with Chelsea in the Premier League in his first home game as United manager.
The contest was a drab affair, but Moyes was encouraged by a committed display from striker Wayne Rooney, who belied reports that he is unsettled at the club with a performance of effort and determination.
Rooney has been the subject of two failed bids from Chelsea during the close season and their coach Jose Mourinho was pessimistic about the prospects of signing him after the game, saying he would only wait "24 hours, 48 hours" for Rooney to make a decision on his future.
"I was very pleased with his performance and I was very pleased with the reaction from the crowd," said Moyes.
"I've got to say, I didn't think it was unexpected. I expected it. I don't know how many times I have to say it - he's been great in training.
"I think anybody who looked at him might have seen a slightly leaner-looking Wayne. I said to him, 'I might only play you for 60-70 minutes tonight, I'll see how you go.'
"But no, he worked back, he tackled, he chased when we needed it."
Moyes said Rooney had "a positive mind" and rejected the notion that the 27-year-old needs to make a public declaration of allegiance to United.
"I think his performance tonight said enough," he said. "I think his actions tonight showed what he thought."
Despite his failure to make progress in his attempts to sign the player, Mourinho also praised Rooney's display, branding him "fantastic" and describing his attitude as "very English".
Although he selected a team with no recognisable strikers, Mourinho could find no place in his starting XI for Juan Mata, but he said it was purely because the Spanish midfielder was short of fitness.
"He's very important for me, very important for Chelsea," said Mourinho, who added that any reports to the contrary were "nonsense stories" and that Mata was "going nowhere".
Mourinho also left Fernando Torres on the bench, but he dismissed suggestions that the Spain striker is still to repay the club following his £50 million ($78 million, 58 million euros) switch from Liverpool in January 2011.
"He scored a goal that won the UEFA Cup (Europa League), so that means some millions," Mourinho said.
"He scored the goal against Everton that put Chelsea in the Champions League (last season), that means also some millions.
"So he's not already (repaid) 50 - maybe he's 20 now. He's doing his job."
Chelsea this week agreed to sign attacking midfielder Willian for a reported fee of £30 million, but Mourinho refused to confirm reports he is interested in the Brazilian's Anzhi Makhachkala team-mate Samuel Eto'o.
"We don't like to speak about players," he said with an ironic smile. "It's dangerous."
Moyes said he had been overwhelmed by the reception he received in his first home game as Alex Ferguson's successor.
"I'm extremely proud to be manager of Manchester United and my family would be as well," he said.
"But I want to earn the reception in the future. I want the claps to be because I've won things and I've got a good team here."