Rooney’s current £250,000-a-week contract, signed in October 2010, expires at the end of next season.
Atkinson told the Sunday Mirror: “If you were United, you’d definitely want to sign Rooney for the next few years and you can bet money that’s in their minds right now.
“He is one of the half-a-dozen best players in the world and United are, you would probably say, one of the three biggest clubs in the world and I’m sure they will want to keep him.
“He’s done very well for United so far this season, but then I never subscribed to the theory that he didn’t do so well for them last year.
“He had to play in a number of positions last season and the difference is that he is now playing in his best position, as the No.10.
“But, then, if I had Rooney, I’d simply say to him – there’s the ball, go out on to that football field and do some damage. Just let him play.
“Rooney has been doing his stuff at the top level for more than 10 years. He’s got over 200 goals. He must have been doing something right in that time.”
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