Wayne Rooney was persuaded to change his mind about leaving Manchester United after being given the kind of privileged access to the club's spending plans that Sir Alex Ferguson had previously denied him, the Guardian can reveal.
Rooney was given advance notice about the £37.1m deal to sign Juan Mata and has also spoken at length to the manager, David Moyes, and the chief executive, Ed Woodward, about their vision of the club under the Glazer family's ownership, in complete contrast to what happened when Ferguson was in charge.
The England striker has been trusted with transfer-market information and kept in the loop about possible signings in a move that acknowledges his importance to the club and a recognition, at the highest level within Old Trafford, that a player of Rooney's stature deserves to know whether a team who have been struggling all season have the financial muscle and ambition to put it right.
The change in tack has had immediate success after Rooney let United know he is open to the idea of extending his contract, which runs out at the end of next season, rather than persisting with his attempts to force a move to Chelsea. Talks are to be held in the next week and the initial noises have been so positive United are quietly optimistic it will end in the player signing a long-term deal that will give him the chance to overtake Sir Bobby Charlton as the club's record scorer, with 249 goals.
Rooney, currently on 208, had previously indicated he was concerned about the club's ambitions when he put in a transfer request in October 2010, prompting Ferguson to make it very clear that the player had no right expecting to be involved at that level.
"I told him that to say we weren't ambitious was nonsense," Ferguson says in his latest autobiography. "Wayne said that we should have pursued Mesut Özil. My reply was that it was none of his business who we should have gone for. I told him it was his job to play and perform." David Gill, Woodward's predecessor, left the same message with Rooney and the striker's adviser, Paul Stretford.
The new regime has taken a softer approach and has been happy to speak to Rooney about player acquisitions, not least to allay his obvious concerns at a time when United are seventh in the Premier League and clearly in need of a makeover.
While United would not ordinarily discuss transfers with players, the discussions show an understanding on their part that it would be self-defeating to keep him out of it. Rooney is understood to have appreciated the VIP treatment, without pushing the boundaries too far. He is aware that United will refuse point-blank to do business with Chelsea and, despite José Mourinho's recent comments about him probably being sold abroad, the player has no great desire to move countries.
His relationship with Ferguson had disintegrated during their final season together but that issue is no longer relevant and, importantly, Rooney has expressed his satisfaction about the working conditions Moyes and his coaching staff have put in place. United have also shown a willingness to reward him financially, with reports of the deal being worth £300,000 a week. It may actually be below that figure but Rooney will have a testimonial as part of the agreement and the figures are still significant for a player who will turn 30 next year. Rooney can also expect to be made captain at some point in the next few years.
Mata, in line to make his debut against Cardiff City on Tuesday, is expected to be the only major arrival at Old Trafford in the January window despite their extensive search for new players. United's information is that Luke Shaw, the Southampton left-back, would prefer a move to Chelsea and the club's scouting of Internazionale's Fredy Guarín has left them unsure about exactly how good the midfielder is.
In the meantime Wilfried Zaha's wretched first six months at Old Trafford, not starting a single Premier League match since his £10m move from Crystal Palace, will see him leave the club on loan in the next few days. Cardiff City have beaten off competition from a long list of clubs, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's links with Old Trafford have also helped the Welsh club negotiate a transfer for Fábio da Silva.