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Wayne Rooney could be offered an unlikely route out of Manchester United by Spanish giants Real Madrid this summer.

With Rooney now in to the last 18 months of his contract at Old Trafford and unlikely to sign a new one, he knows that there is no way United will sell him to one of their own domestic rivals.

However, it has emerged that Real have the 28-year-old on a list of three centre forward targets this summer, behind Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Monaco’s unsettled Colombian goalscorer Radamel Falcao.

With City highly unlikely to let Aguero go and Falcao tied in to a long contract in the south of France, Rooney would represent a cheaper option for Madrid who are by all accounts attracted by his form this season and the fact he can play as a front-running striker or as a number ten.

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti knows all about Rooney from his own time at Chelsea, of course, but the real driving force behind any move is president Florentino Perez, who has been an admirer of the England star for some time.

United will try to resist any attempts by Madrid to force through a transfer, happier to let Rooney run down his contract and leave for free in the summer of 2015.

Just at the weekend, informed that Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho had predicted Rooney would be sold abroad this summer, manager David Moyes said: ‘I disagree’.

Meanwhile, United are confident of landing Juan Mata from Chelsea in a £37million deal by the end of the week.

Talks regarding the 25-year-old Spain midfielder are so far advanced that Mata is convinced he will have a medical before the weekend.

Mata is determined to leave Chelsea after becoming frustrated with his failure to impress Jose Mourinho this season.

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