Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez believes Wayne Rooney is still one of the best players in Europe.
The 31-year-old was excluded from the starting XI back in September after a string of woeful performances, and has failed to reestablish himself in the Manchester United side ever since.
Rooney’s sudden descent down the pecking order has led to many suggesting that a move to China could serve as a next destination for the Englishman.
When asked whether a move further afield would suit Rooney, Xavi said: “With all respect to The MLS, China, and other leagues, Wayne Rooney is not ready for that yet. In two or three seasons maybe, but at his age it is not the time.
“A player of his ability at his age needs to be playing in one of Europe’s top leagues.
“I still think he has a lot to offer Manchester United but if either him or the club decide not to continue that relationship, I know he would offer something to all the top clubs in Europe.
“Rooney has always played with so much energy and he may need to adjust his role and play a little deeper, but his quality is still there to see.”
There will always be two differing agendas when it comes to judging the Rooney of 2016: the first being, of course, that of United fans, who have watched Rooney, week after week, steadily go descent from a world-beating striker to an immobile, confidence sapped force, with no fixed role in Jose Mourinho’s side.
The other view, like the one espoused by Xavi, comes from further afield, where the Englishman is still observed in the context of his better days in a United shirt. And this is perhaps reason enough for Rooney to consider a move overseas, to a country – China is a perfect example – that still immortalises him for the talent he once was, and away from an environment that perpetually berates him from failing to align with the Premier League’s rigorous standards.