Jose Mourinho has dropped a fresh hint towards his interest in Wayne Rooney after the Manchester United striker was forced to pull out of his club's tour of the Far East with a hamstring injury.
Chelsea have been consistently linked with the England international as speculation surrounding his future at Old Trafford continues to swirl and while refusing to discuss any potential deal for Rooney, Blues manager Mourinho spoke of his admiration for the striker.
Speaking from the club's pre-season tour of Asia, Mourinho praised the "fast and direct" United man who will now miss an early opportunity to impress his new manager David Moyes after a summer of uncertainty.
"It's a funny trick question," Mourinho said when quizzed on Rooney.
"From an ethical point of view I cannot speak about other team's players. But I won't speak with hypocrisy. It's not in my nature. I always speak what I think."
"He is a player I like very much but I can't say much more. He is fast and direct and I like him. He is a Manchester United player."
Rooney has been forced to return home just two days after setting off for Bangkok with the United squad for their tour of the Far East and Australia with the injury, that could see him side lined for a month, according to BBC Sport.
Such a circumstance has not helped speculation surrounding Rooney's future at the club after handing in a transfer request at the end of last season. Although Moyes is understood to have spoken to the player on a number of occasions in a bid to resolve his issue and insisted he will not be sold, whether he will remain at Old Trafford remains to be seen.
While the 27-year-old will now have to wait until his side return before he can begin to impress his former Everton manager on the pitch, Moyes has been sympathetic towards Rooney's plight, suggesting the club could ill-afford to take any chances with the striker's long term fitness.
"He didn't train yesterday and we thought it would be worth just seeing what it was and there was a very slight mark on his hamstring," Moyes told United's official website.
"We won't take any chances - there is no point in taking him any further round the world so we've sent him back and he'll get treatment at the Aon Training Complex."