Ex-Manchester United captain Gary Neville concedes the odds of Wayne Rooney remaining at Old Trafford next season are dwindling by the day.
As skipper and the club's all-time record goalscorer, Rooney's standing with the Reds is unquestionable, but the 31-year-old's future is far from certain amid his reduced role under manager Jose Mourinho and interest from the Chinese Super League.
No longer an automatic starter, nine of Rooney's 18 Premier League appearances have come from the bench as Mourinho prefers Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Juan Mata and Anthony Martial in the attacking roles.
But with Ibrahimovic serving the final games of a three-match suspension against Middlesbrough on Sunday and West Brom on April 1, Neville harbours some hope that a run in the side may just be enough to convince Rooney his future is at United.
"Him being there next season is doubtful just because of the noise," Neville told Omnisport. "I hope he's there next season. I think Wayne still has a lot to offer, but he wants to play more often.
"He's not playing as much football as he'd like. Knowing him, he's the type of footballer that would like to play every minute of every day.
"There's definitely some doubt, but there's still two to three months left in the season. United have plenty to play for, including qualifying for the Champions League.
"My view would be, maybe his mind can be changed by what happens in those months. With Ibrahimovic missing it is an opportunity for Marcus Rashford, but also for Rooney potentially."
Despite breaking records for United and England, Rooney has not been spared the criticism of supporters or pundits, while links with the CSL – where the likes of Carlos Tevez, Oscar and Hulk ply their trade – have persisted.
Neville, who played alongside Rooney for club and country and won eight Premier League titles during his illustrious career at Old Trafford, added: "Look at life nowadays and social media, we're so quick to judge everybody.
"He is going through a period of his career where obviously the performances and appearances aren't the same as they were. People tend to forget what happened previously.
"All he needs to do is retire and all of a sudden everybody would remember the greatness of him. We are seeing it with [Arsene] Wenger, Rooney, Steven Gerrard, you see this approach towards them and then they retire and people respect and enjoy what they've seen for the last 15 years.
"He will get the credit he deserves eventually because he's had a magnificent career. He deserves a tremendous amount of credit for what he's achieved in terms of club and country appearances, goals, commitment and leadership. He is just going through a natural period that most players do."
While Rooney remains under a cloud, it is almost certain that United will strengthen for the 2017-18 campaign amid links with Antoine Griezmann, Victor Lindelof and Tiemoue Bakayoko.
Long-term successors to Ibrahimovic and Michael Carrick have emerged as priorities for United's hierarchy, but Neville suggested a more radical overhaul may be required.
"I think you could argue they need strengthening in defence, midfield and attack," said the 42-year-old. "Three or four players wouldn’t just be in one area, they would be spread among those.
"They do need strengthening. It's obvious. I don't think United have sat there as the only team that needs strengthening. If you think about English teams falling short in Europe, we need to strengthen all our top teams. [Manchester] City need to strengthen, Arsenal, Liverpool, United need to strength.
"I don't think United are in a unique position. The issue I suppose is that every club seems to be after the same players."
|Lallana return the best news Liverpool could get - Klopp|
|Inter have financial muscle to sign Messi, claims Mazzola|
|Mata returns to Man Utd squad, McTominay in line for debut|
|Gimenez set to miss Champions League semi-final|
|Melbourne Victory 1 Brisbane Roar 0: Berisha breaks resistance to book Grand Final spot|
|Tottenham ambitions bigger than beating Arsenal, says Kane|
|Xavi wins first trophy with Al Sadd|
|I wasn´t obsessed with goal drought, says Barcelona star Suarez|
|Alba frustrated but commits future to Barcelona|
|Pique: I have the most fun at Espanyol and Real Madrid|
|MLS Review: Kaka scores on return for Orlando, Sounders complete three-goal comeback|
|Gimenez doubtful for Madrid clash due to adductor injury|
|Wenger warns Tottenham they could lose stars due to wage structure|
|Luis Enrique: Barcelona will give everything in pursuit of titles|
|Manchester City boss Guardiola rues absence of ´special´ Jesus|
|I don´t get tired of praising these players - Simeone revels in Atletico Madrid´s rampant form|
|I could have scored more goals! - Bayern legend Lahm reflects on remarkable career|
|Espanyol 0 Barcelona 3: Suarez brace, Rakitic strike sends Luis Enrique´s side to the top|
|Bayern players celebrate Bundesliga success|
|Dyche delight as ´outstanding´ Burnley finally win away|
|Ancelotti thanks Bayern Munich ´family´ after securing Bundesliga title|
|Championship Review: Brighton shocked, Wigan relegated, Redknapp works his magic|
|Short admits his role in Sunderland relegation|
|Crystal Palace 0 Burnley 2: Barnes and Gray seal long-awaited first away win|
|Las Palmas 0 Atletico Madrid 5: Gameiro strikes twice in resounding win|
|Wolfsburg 0 Bayern Munich 6: Ancelotti´s men clinch title in style|
|Hughes preaches patience with Berahino, Bilic forgives Calleri rabona|
|Silva lauds Jakupovic penalty save as vital moment in Hull´s bid for survival|
|Vardy urged to ´finish on a high´ after firing Leicester to brink of safety|
|Zidane hails Marcelo, Carvajal as two of world´s top full-backs|
|Monaco 3 Toulouse 1: PSG thrashing forgotten as Mbappe and Lemar seal spirited win|
|Dortmund get two days off ahead of huge Hoffenheim match|
|Madrid dug deep in our soul, says match-winner Marcelo|
|Moyes: It´s my worst day in football|
|WATCH: Subotic leads ´yellow wall´ chants after helping Cologne draw at Dortmund|
|Southampton 0 Hull City 0: Jakupovic´s last-gasp penalty save preserves vital point|
|Sunderland relegated after 10 years in Premier League|
|Real Madrid 2 Valencia 1: Marcelo the hero after Ronaldo misses penalty|
|Sunderland 0 Bournemouth 1: Late King goal confirms hosts´ relegation|
|Stoke City 0 West Ham 0: Butland secures point for Potters|
|West Brom 0 Leicester City 1: Vardy fires Foxes closer to safety|
|RB Leipzig 0 Ingolstadt 0: Stalemate leaves Bayern on the brink of glory|
|Borussia Dortmund 0 Cologne 0: Stoger brings BVB back to earth|
|Torino star Belotti unperturbed by excessive price tag|
|McClean received death threats over Republic of Ireland decision|
|Ben Arfa denied Nice return as Emery selects PSG´s ´best´|
|Pioli´s Inter ´family´ fighting to halt poor run|
|Rangers 1 Celtic 5: Champions rampant in Old Firm rout|
|Granada relegated after defeat to Real Sociedad|
|Montella demands end to AC Milan transfer rumours|
|Coleman has no fear over return from broken leg|
|Sydney FC 3 Perth Glory 0: Premiers into final with video assistance|
|Mangala clueless on long-term Manchester City future|
|Barcelona´s Iniesta out of Catalan derby due to injury|
|Unbowed Kompany retains Champions League ambition at Manchester City|
|Marotta confirms Juventus interest in Sampdoria striker Schick|
|Our family is complete – Liverpool great Gerrard announces birth of son|
|Dybala: I need more goals to be like Del Piero|
|Melo among four suspended after Penarol-Palmeiras brawl|
|Ferguson would never do it - Sheringham unhappy with Mourinho style|
|´Wenger Out´ protest casts unhelpful light on Arsenal´s trip to Spurs|
|PSG unhappy over €100,000 fine after damage at Lyon|
|Toronto FC 2 Houston Dynamo 0: Altidore at the double for in-form MLS hosts|
|Toure: Hopefully United attack more next season|
|Conte can´t guarantee Hazard stay as Madrid circle Chelsea star|
|Allegri: Juventus´ draw with Atalanta the perfect preparation for Monaco tie|
|Too much, too soon? - Lampard questions Guardiola´s demands at Man City|
|Atalanta 2 Juventus 2: Last-gasp Buffon error proves costly|
|Cardiff City 0 Newcastle United 2: Atsu and Hayden keep title dreams intact|
|Mbappe will go to Arsenal but Henry comparisons premature, says Gunners legend Pires|
|Koeman: Everton need more players with Lukaku´s mentality|
|Tuchel ushers Dortmund back to the well after Bayern triumph|
|Conte impressed by ´four or five´ of Chelsea´s FA Youth Cup winners|
|Pochettino sets Spurs sights higher than finishing above Arsenal|
|Tottenham to move to Wembley for 2017-18|
|Simeone not interested in Jese´s Griezmann jibe|
|Griezmann wouldn´t get in Real Madrid team, says Jese|
|Praise for Lukaku but Chelsea boss Conte happy with Costa|
|United ´miss belief´ but Mourinho gunning for top honours next season|
|Manchester derby draw changes nothing for Liverpool - Klopp|
|Ronaldo so good he could play anywhere - Zidane|
|Barcelona boss Luis Enrique expects Neymar to keep his cool|
|Rooney in midfield, Mourinho and Tuanzebe at centre-back - Manchester United boss assesses injury cr|
|Madrid rotation policy not unjust - Zidane|
|Ancelotti insists he has full support at Bayern|
|Iniesta misses training ahead of Espanyol v Barcelona derby|
|Sanchez trolled by Leicester defender Huth over throw-in controversy|
|Thiago determined to win Champions League after pledging future to Bayern|
|Sanchez throw-in reaction not embarrassing, insists Wenger|
|Lovren pens long-term deal at Liverpool|
|Arsenal scouted Alli before Tottenham move, claims Wenger|
|Thiago signs new Bayern Munich deal|
|Mourinho and I often speak, reveals Evra|
|Barcelona and Real Madrid would find Premier League tough, says Klopp|
|My heart is in Italy, says Chelsea boss Conte|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Barrios hat-trick ensures Gremio stay unbeaten, River preserve perfect rec|
|Ancelotti future not discussed – Rummenigge|
|Mourinho: City will finish in the top four|
|Sevilla boss Sampaoli to be offered Argentina job, confirms AFA|
|Kovacic content at Real Madrid – agent|
|Bilic hails reported West Ham target Sturridge|
|Ramos open to presidential role at Real Madrid|
|Guardiola laments City´s ageing full-backs|