Wayne Rooney would prefer a move to Barcelona, if Manchester United show him the door this summer.

Speculation the 27-year-old is edging closer to a move away from Old Trafford has been growing ever since he was left out of United's starting line-up for the crucial Champions League Round of 16 second leg game against Real Madrid in midweek, to accommodate youngster Danny Welbeck and out-of-favour winger Nani.

Wayne Rooney was benched against Real Madrid

Although Rooney came on as a substitute late in the second half, his body language suggested he was greatly distressed by the shock omission. And according to the Daily Star, the England international has now set his sights on a move to Barcelona.

"Only time will tell if Wayne leaves United at the end of this season, but if that happens then he would love to go to Barcelona," the newspaper quoted a source.

"He watches them all the time and is a massive fan. He has first-hand experience of how good they are and is a huge admirer of their brand of football. I'm sure he wouldn't be short of offers, but Barcelona are head and shoulders above the rest in his eyes," the report added.

However, the Daily Mail claims most of the top European clubs, including Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester City have distanced themselves from making a move for Rooney this summer. The report states United are ready to consider offers in the region of £20m but issues surrounding the England striker's fitness and conditioning has warded off some of the potential suitors, namely Real and Barca.

City, meanwhile, still feel they had been used as a bargaining chip when Rooney signed an improved five-year deal at Old Trafford in October 2010, after effectively holding United to ransom over a new contract.

Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich remain a possibility but Rooney's wage demands could scupper a move to those clubs or to any of the Serie A giants, who are currently facing a financial struggle.

Meanwhile, Sir Alex Ferguson has now spoken out about Rooney's future at Old Trafford and the Scot has insisted Rooney will not be sold in the summer. The long-serving United boss was quoted as saying: "Wayne will be here next year. You have my word on that."