Jose Mourinho was reluctant to discuss any interest in Wayne Rooney but the Chelsea boss admitted his admiration of the Manchester United star.
The England striker flew out of Bangkok hours before Chelsea arrived after scans revealed a hamstring injury will keep him out for a month.
Conspiracy theorists have leapt on Rooney's departure as evidence his future at Old Trafford is limited given the forward is still to offer any indication that he wants to stay, despite United's repeated claims the 27-year-old is not for sale.
Chelsea are one of the clubs said to be interested in Rooney.
And whilst Mourinho accepted etiquette dictates that he should not discuss other clubs' players, the Blues boss could not resist.
He said: "I cannot speak about players from other teams but you know me...
"I have always said what I think and I like the player very much.
"I cannot say more than that. He is fast and direct. I like him but he is a Manchester United player."
Manchester United manager David Moyes brushed off Mourinho's declared admiration of Rooney by again insisting the striker was going nowhere.
The comment is not strictly true given Rooney has gone home, returning to Manchester with a hamstring injury after spending a matter of hours in Thailand ahead of United's tour opener tomorrow.
However, it is clear Moyes will not be moved from the mantra he has repeated on an almost daily basis since his first media engagement as Red Devils chief last Friday.
And not even Mourinho can change it.
"I don't think so," the Scot said, when asked if the Chelsea manager was being mischievous. "People are entitled to talk about good players.
"I am being asked plenty about Wayne so I am sure Jose will be getting asked about lots of players as well.
"It is hard to keep repeating myself - but I will do. Wayne is a Manchester United player and will remain that."