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Why is Ed Woodward returning to Manchester?

Sports Mole assesses the possible reasons behind chief executive Ed Woodward returning from Manchester United's pre-season tour.

Reports emerged this afternoon that chief executive Ed Woodward had left Manchester United's pre-season tour of Australia to conduct some "urgent transfer business" at Old Trafford.

It immediately kicked the rumourmill into action as to who the player in question was.

Below, Sports Mole has picked out the four most likely scenarios.

Wayne Rooney

It seems the most obvious reason, despite United's denial this afternoon. Everything is pointing to the fact that Rooney wants out of Old Trafford. What's more, clubs like Chelsea do not tend to bid for a player unless they have been given an indication that he is interested in making the move. Many believe that it would be better for United to part with the England international before the situation becomes toxic. It would be Woodward's job to negotiate the best financial package for United, as well as perhaps trying to land Juan Mata or David Luiz, as earlier reports had suggested.

Chelsea's David Luiz and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney battle for the ball on March 1, 2011© PA Photos

Cesc Fabregas

There have been mixed reports where United's pursuit of Fabregas is concerned in recent days. Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova believes that the former Arsenal man is keen to stay at the Camp Nou, yet speculation has claimed that Barca are open to selling. United's initial offer of £26m was rejected, unsurprisingly, but Woodward's return could suggest that a second bid is being prepared.

Cesc Fabregas© PA Photos

Ezequiel Garay

It's been the story that won't go away. Even though United are well-stocked in the centre-back department, they have been continually linked with Benfica's Argentine defender Garay. If stories are to be believed, United have already agreed a fee for his signature, but the loose ends may now require tidying up.

Benfica's Ezequiel Garay scores his side's second against Celtic on November 20, 2012© AP Photos

Someone else

Is Cristiano Ronaldo returning? Gareth Bale or Luka Modric maybe? Perhaps United are close to securing a deal on the quiet. Sky Sports News this afternoon claimed that Woodward's return to Manchester had nothing to do with the ongoing Rooney soap opera. Although it is hard to believe, if that were proved to be true, it would suggest that the champions will soon have a new player among their ranks

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring a free kick for Manchester United against Arsenal in 2009.© PA Photos

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Ed Woodward returns to Manchester?

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· Wave conditions permitting, surfing will make its Olympic debut (11pm-8.20am)

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· History beckons for Jade Jones as she looks to become a three-time Olympic champion - something never done before in the sport prior to these Games (2am-1.45pm)
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· Already-legendary gymnast Simone Biles makes her first appearance of the Games in the women's qualifying event (2am-2pm)

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· Lizzie Deignan is among the Team GB team looking for success in the women's road race (5am-9.30am)

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