LONDON - As Manchester United seek to persuade Wayne Rooney to sign a new deal, manager David Moyes has described the forward as a "leader" who is on the verge of legendary status at the club.
Contract talks between player and club have begun, and United are hopeful of tying down Rooney's long-term future in the way Liverpool have just secured Luis Suarez with a 41/2-year deal, reported the Manchester Evening News.
Much like Suarez at Anfield, Rooney's future at Old Trafford was cast in doubt at the end of last season.
Both stayed and have been catalysts for their respective teams.
Rooney has been a rare bright spark for the champions, scoring eight goals and made eight assists in 15 league games. Even then, United remain in eighth place, and Moyes suffered another setback on Monday, with midfielder Marouane Fellaini set to be sidelined until February after undergoing surgery on his injured wrist.
Suarez has also been handed the captaincy in the absence of Steven Gerrard, while Moyes has praised Rooney's influence in the dressing room.
"Do you know what I see more than anything in Wayne? I see leadership," said Moyes.
"I see somebody who wants to take responsibility for the team. I see somebody who cares for how he plays and how the team plays. More than anything that is what I see from Wayne.
"Maybe, if he is not quite at the top of his form, I will need him to drop in at times and he has no problem doing any of the jobs.
"He is getting to an age now where he realises he is not a boy any more. He is one of the senior men in the team."
Rooney has 18 months left on his current deal, with Real Madrid reportedly keen on making a £20 million (S$41 million) bid should he stall on an extension.
Staying at Old Trafford, however, could see the 28-year-old become United's top goal-scorer. He has 207 goals - 42 behind Bobby Charlton's mark (249).
"He is actually on the verge of being one of the great legends at this club," added Moyes.
"Because of that I think he is saying I have got to take responsibility for results and for performances and make sure the players are doing it on the pitch.
"The players are responding. In the dressing room now Wayne is one of those who is beginning to call the shots."
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