Wayne Rooney is “sure” to sign with Derby County but will not take up his player-coach role until January, said the club’s owner.
An agreement is set to be finalised on Tuesday after former England captain Rooney flew into London from the United States, where he is contracted to DC United.
The 33-year-old still has over two years left to run on his deal at Audi Field and will see out the remainder of the MLS season before joining up with Phillip Cocu’s squad for the second half of their Championship campaign.
“He wants to finish the season there and of course it’s pivotal to them that they’re in [contention for] the play-offs at the moment,” Rams owner Mel Morris told Sky Sports.
“He was wanting to make sure he saw the season out. He’ll join us in January if we can get the deal done.”
Morris added: “I’m hoping it’s really close. Obviously, we’d love to get it over the line, we’re working hard towards that. I’m sure we’ll get it done today.”
Derby opened talks with Rooney after learning the ex-Everton and Manchester United forward wanted to return to England.
“It stemmed from a conversation between Phillip Cocu and Wayne which was pivotal to this thing,” Morris said.
“I think for Wayne [it was important] to come and work with a manager he holds in high esteem and obviously for Phillip the opportunity to get a world-class player and somebody he can have on the field to help bring on the youngsters.
“Wayne is coming here to play for the club but he’s also wanting to accelerate his coaching badges.
“A key thing for him in terms of his long-term career ambitions is to become a manager.
“I think the time we had with Frank [Lampard] was great in terms of demonstrating that willingness to give people time, to work with them, to help them develop. I think Wayne sees us as a good place to come and do that.”
Morris denied Rooney’s arrival at Pride Park would negatively impact the club’s Financial Fair Play standing, claiming the “great commercial opportunity” could instead have the opposite effect.