Rooney poised to join Everton for free

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Wayne Rooney scored 15 goals for Everton in 67 appearances from 2002 to 2004

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney looks set to return to Everton in the next few days on a free transfer.

BBC Sport understands there is “quiet optimism” that a deal is close and that Rooney, 31, wants to return to Goodison – 13 years after he left for United – despite interest from other clubs.

United will waive a fee and may also fund part of Rooney’s £13m wages.

He is unlikely to be part of the United party who leave for their pre-season tour of the United States on Sunday.

The deal is not connected to United’s ongoing pursuit of Everton forward Romelu Lukaku.

Rooney signed a new four-and-a-half-year contract during the 2013-14 campaign, which included the option of a further season, but the Old Trafford club have no intention of triggering that clause.

The future of the the former England captain, who started 15 Premier League games last season, has been the subject of speculation for several months.

Asked in May whether he wanted to stay at Old Trafford, he said: “Of course. I’ve been at this club for 13 years, but I want to play football.”

Rooney began his career at Goodison Park before joining United for £27m in August 2004.

Meanwhile, United have appointed former Sunderland manager Ricky Sbragia as their new Under-23 manager.

Sbragia, who left the Scottish FA last month, spent three years in charge of the reserves at United from 2002.

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