Manchester United: Is Wayne Rooney's Replacement This Real Madrid Star?

Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney.
Manchester United club captain Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford, Manchester, October 2. Rooney has been dropped from Jose Mourinho's starting line up and speculation about his future is mounting. Richard Heathcote/Getty

Publicly, Wayne Rooney, Jose Mourinho and Manchester United insist they have a future together.

In private, with the club captain out of Mourinho's starting team, it may be a different story.

A report in Spanish newspaper AS claims United is targeting Real Madrid winger Isco, who has fallen out of favor at Santiago Bernabeu under the management of Zinedine Zidane.

And the 24-year-old would be a replacement for Rooney, the England captain, who has been tried in a midfield role this season and struggled.

Mourinho dropped the 30-year-old from his team following a poor performance in the 3-1 English Premier League defeat against Watford at Vicarage Road on September 18. Rooney has made only substitutes' appearances in the Premier League since then.

Isco's arrival would give Mourinho the option of a versatile, quick-witted attacker to link the play between midfield and attack. While Juan Mata's performance in that role this season has been a success, the Portuguese manager would still like more competition for places in his forward line.

Expect Isco to have many more suitors than just the Old Trafford club—Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and a return to Malaga, one of his former clubs, have all been mooted as possible destinations for the gifted player—but if United does get its man, anticipate speculation over Rooney's future to ramp up that little bit more.