|Wayne Rooney's contract doesn't expire until the end of next season, but Manchester United may be forced to cash in on the 24-year-old in January. (REUTERS/Eddie Keogh)
MANCHESTER, England - Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed on Tuesday that striker Wayne Rooney has requested to leave Manchester United.
Ferguson revealed Rooney called off contract negotiations in August, although United was prepared to offer the England international "a contract that would be difficult to better elsewhere."
"It was a shock," Ferguson said. "I couldn't believe it."
Ferguson also said he would leave the door open for Rooney to change his mind, although during a meeting between the two the player "intimated to me, in his own way, that he wanted to leave."
Rooney's contract doesn't expire until the end of next season, but United may be forced to cash in on the 24-year-old in January following his request.
Ferguson said there were contract discussions with Rooney late last season, at which time Rooney "intimated he wanted to stay, that he wanted a life contract with the club.
"That was the best news in the world. It was terribly disappointing to get the news [that he wanted to leave].
"We couldn't understand it. We just don't know what's changed the boy's mind really."
Rooney has played in five Premier League matches this season with one goal but has missed time with an ankle injury. He will not play in the Champions League on Wednesday against Bursaspor at Old Trafford.