Barcelona legend Xavi believes Wayne Rooney should play deeper because Manchester United need a striker “who can run for 90 minutes”.
United captain Rooney turned 30 last weekend and his form this season suggests time may be catching up with him.
The England record goalscorer has notched only two goals in the Premier League this season and many pundits and supporters are calling for Anthony Martial to play in the central role with the French teenager scoring five goals since he arrived from Monaco on deadline day.
Xavi agrees, but the Al Sadd star believes Rooney has the intelligence to adapt to a deeper-lying role.
“Personally I think Rooney still has much to offer, but maybe it’s time for him to adapt,” said the Barcelona legend.
“You get to an age and you can’t play the game you once used to, you can’t cover the ground you used to.
“But intelligent players adapt and there’s no doubting Rooney has a very good footballing brain.
“Maybe it’s time for a new striker at Manchester United, who can run for 90 minutes, but Rooney would be very dangerous in a deeper role.
“He has the vision and the passing range to play that role very well.
If he can adapt, there’s no reason why he can’t play at the top level for another five or six seasons.
“But as a player you must admit to yourself your body is changing and can’t do what it used to be able to do.”
Xavi played under Louis Van Gaal at Barca and the 35-year-old says Rooney could become a victim of the Dutchman’s ruthless streak.
“Wayne Rooney is a player I have admired for a long time,” said Xavi. “He is an extraordinary player with extraordinary capabilities.
“Van Gaal does not respect names though. It doesn’t matter if you are the best player in the world, if he wants to drop you from the team, then he will drop you from the team.
“I respect and like Van Gaal because he is honest and direct, and I like to deal with people like that, but it can be hard to listen to his harsh criticism at times. But if you do, it will ultimately improve you.”