MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Wayne Rooney performed a stunning U-turn on Friday by signing a five-year contract to stay at Manchester United and end a week of bombshells with yet another shock.
The England striker had looked destined to leave Old Trafford in the next transfer window after saying on Wednesday that he wanted to quit because of United's lack of clout in the transfer market.
He attributed his change of heart to manager Alex Ferguson, whom Rooney called a "genius" and said had convinced him that he belonged at United.
"I'm delighted to sign another deal at United. In the last couple of days, I've talked to the manager and the owners and they've convinced me this is where I belong," Rooney said in a statement.
"I'm signing a new deal in the absolute belief that the management, coaching staff, board and owners are totally committed to making sure United maintains its proud winning history -- which is the reason I joined the club in the first place."
Ferguson, who spoke of his shock earlier this week at Rooney's wish to leave, had been locked in talks with chief executive David Gill to sort out what he said was in danger of becoming a 'saga'.
His bemusement turned to delight on Friday with the announcement of a deal that would keep Rooney at the club until at least June 2015.
"It's been a difficult week, but the intensity of the coverage is what we expect at Manchester United. I said to the boy that the door is always open and I'm delighted Wayne has agreed to stay," Ferguson said in the statement.
"Sometimes, when you're in a club, it can be hard to realise just how big it is and it takes something like the events of the last few days to make you understand. I think Wayne now understands what a great club Manchester United is.
"I'm pleased he has accepted the challenge to guide the younger players and establish himself as one of United's great players. It shows character and belief in what we stand for."
The news stunned the footballing world, with former United player Lou Macari telling Sky Sports News: "I thought it was April 1. Nothing has shocked me more in football ever than this week."
United tight-lipped over Rooney
Manchester United have refused to comment for now on Wayne Rooney’s future after a meeting between Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill, although they did admit dialogue with the player’s agent.
The club were expected to confirm that Rooney would either be transfer listed or asked to see out his contract after it emerged that the player wanted to leave at Old Trafford and would not sign a new deal.
But following an hour-long discussion between boss Ferguson and chief executive David Gill the club released a statement asking fans to “be patient”.
“We are aware that there is intense public and media interest on the club at the moment, but there are no developments of note to report today,” the club said.
“I can confirm a number of meetings have taken place today, including with the player’s representative.
“The outcome of those meetings will become clear in the near future. In the meantime, fans are asked to be patient.”