After nearly 13 years and 250 goals, Wayne Rooney's time at Manchester United could come to an end before the end of the month. The United skipper has been phased out of the first team by Jose Mourinho this season, with his last starting appearance in the league coming over two months ago. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has become the club's talisman this term, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and now Anthony Martial now demanding first-team roles in attack.
Surpassing Sir Bobby Charlton's record goal haul was the only remaining triumph left for Rooney to achieve. His place in history is already assured. A new challenge could now await.
Speaking to the press on Tuesday, Mourinho was unable to guarantee Rooney will still be a United player at the end of the season. The Chinese Super League now reportedly beckons, with clubs free to conduct business until their transfer deadline on 28 February.
IBTimes UK considers the clubs that are in a position to sign the England captain.
What are the rules regarding foreign players in the Chinese Super League?
The Chinese Super League adopts a 4+1 rule which permits five foreign players in a squad, although at least one of them must be from another country in Asia. Recent changes ahead of the 2017 season also means clubs will only be able to field three non-Chinese players per game.
Many clubs have already fulfilled their quotas with some of the more recognisable names of Chinese football in Guangzhou Evergrande, led by former Atletico Madrid striker Jackson Martinez, Shanghai SIPG, now bolstered by Oscar and Ricardo Carvalho and Carlos Tevez's Shanghai Shenhua all at their limit.
Of the 16 CSL clubs, nine have already met their quotas and providing there are no late changes, they will not be able to add a foreign player to their squad before next week's deadline. Seven clubs still have one of their slots free ahead of the new season.
Having a spot free doesn't mean all those clubs are in contention to sign the United skipper, however. Any move to China will see Rooney become one of the division's top earners, with The Mirror suggesting the England captain will be offered a deal worth £750,000 per week – enough to make him the best paid player on the planet. That rules most of them out.
Who can he realistically join?
At a glance, only three clubs are in a realistic position to bring Rooney to the Far East. Beijing Guoan finished fifth in last season's CSL but have been further bolstered by a takeover from a Chinese real estate developer with the club now valued at $807m, according to the South China Morning Post.
Tianjin Quanjian also have the financial muscle to make the deal happen. Managed by Italy and Juventus legend Fabio Cannavaro, the club have already spent big to recruit Alex Witsel and Alexandre Pato. They were also the club the most closely linked with Chelsea's Diego Costa following his alleged spat with Diego Costa last month.
Cannavaro says Borussia Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Fiorentina's Croatian international Nikola Kalinic are a better fit for his vision at the club, but at this point, the Manchester United skipper would appear to be the most viable target.
Jiangsu Suning have also shown they have the financial backing to compete for Rooney's signature. In one of the first major moves during Chinese football's rise to power, the club paid £25m to sign Chelsea midfielder Ramires. Weeks later, they blew Liverpool out of the water with an offer for Alex Teixeira, signing the Brazilian for £40m.
According to some reports, Guangzhou Evergrande are also considering an offer, but in order for that to work, they would have to not include one of their current foreign players in the squad for the new season. Jackson Martinez, former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paulinho and Brazilian pair Alan and Ricardo Gourlart, both who have only joined the club in the last 18 months, currently fill their foreign player roster.