The former England captain arrived at Heathrow on Tuesday morning and has made his way up to the Midlands to complete a deal to become a player-coach at the Championship club. Rooney has two years left on his contract at DC United after spending just over a year in Major League Soccer. The 33-year-old has spoken publicly of his desire to pursue a career in management when he retires as a player, and Sky Sports understands he sees Derby as an ideal opportunity to learn the ropes while also prolonging his playing career.
Rooney was a big admirer of Louis van Gaal’s coaching methods when he was at Manchester United, and he has been convinced that Derby’s current boss, Philip Cocu, has a similar approach to his countryman. He sees this role as an ideal opportunity to gain some coaching experience, while also returning home to England to be nearer his wider family. If negotiations go well, he could be confirmed as a Derby player and coach later on Tuesday. The Championship transfer window closes at the same time as the Premier League’s on Thursday at 5pm.
DC United have already lined up Rooney’s replacement. A £2m fee has been agreed with Chinese club Shenzhen for Norway striker Ola Kamara, who would take Rooney’s “Designated Player” slot. Kamara, who has played for Columbus Crew and LA Galaxy, was in the crowd for DC United’s 5-1 defeat to Philadelphia at the weekend.