Jose Mourinho cannot guarantee that Wayne Rooney will end the season at Manchester United, amid reports the forward is ready to head to the Chinese Super League.
Rooney, the club's record goalscorer, continues to be linked with an Old Trafford exit and, according to a number of national newspapers, could move to the Far East before the Chinese transfer window shuts next week.
Three weeks ago Mourinho said there was no chance his skipper would leave before the season is out, but the United boss did not make the same guarantees when asked about the forward's future, with a reported £52million deal on the table for Rooney.
"You'll have to ask him," the United boss said. "You have to ask him.
"Of course I can't guarantee (he will be here). I can't guarantee that I'm here next week, how can I guarantee that a player is here next season?
"What I can guarantee is that if Wayne one day leaves the club it is not because I want him to leave the club. That's the only thing I can guarantee.
"I would never push - or try to push - a legend of this club to another destiny.
"So you have to ask him if he sees himself staying in the club for the rest of his career or if he sees himself moving.
"It is not a question for me because I am happy to have him."
Pushed on whether it was possible Rooney could leave in the next week, Mourinho retorted: "You have to ask him, not me.
"I was very open with you in the answer. I don't want him to leave."
Rooney's deal at Old Trafford runs until next summer, with United holding the option to extend it by a further year.
Whether he sees out the season - never mind his deal - remains to be seen, as does the United captain's availability for Sunday's EFL Cup final against Southampton.
Rooney returned to light training on the eve of Wednesday's Europa League clash with St Etienne, but the hamstring complaint could yet scupper his chances of featuring at Wembley.
"I don't know," Mourinho said. "It was the first time he trained and he didn't even train 100 per cent with the group.
"You saw 15 minutes open to the press and, yes, he was doing the warm-up and basic things after that.
"But then when the training session was high in intensity, he was not training.
"He has no chance for tomorrow. He's not here, he stayed back training and let's see for the weekend."
Rooney is no longer one of the first names on United's team sheet, so a return to fitness would by no means guarantee a place in the side.
"When you don't have a player, you have others," Mourinho said. "And the others they work, they work hard.
"The team is in a good moment. In the past four months, we lost only one game and we lost a game that we could lose because it's a two-legged match for the League Cup.
"So the team is in a good moment, we have players in attacking areas, they are playing well. And Rooney is injured, it is simple."
Phil Jones is another that misses the trip to St Etienne through injury, while influential midfielder Ander Herrera serves a one-match ban.