Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi believes it is too soon for Wayne Rooney to be considering a move to America or China, with it important that he maximises the peak years of his playing career in ‘one of Europe’s top leagues’.
Reports continue to suggest that the Manchester United skipper’s days at Old Trafford are numbered, with Jose Mourinho having taken him out of the firing line to take up a regular role on the bench.
Lucrative offers from the wider footballing world have been mooted, with the respective paths to the US and Far East well-trodden by high-profile European performers in recent years.
Xavi is among those to have spread his wings before calling it a day, with the World Cup winner currently on the books at Qatari side Al Sadd after bringing a glittering career at Camp Nou to a close.
He is, however, of the opinion that Rooney – at 31 years of age – still has a couple of years left him at the very top of the game, with it up to United to decide whether he spends those in England or at a continental rival.
Xavi told Goal: “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.”
Part of the problem for Rooney is that he is no longer viewed as the buccaneering frontman of his pomp, with managers at club and international level looking to shoehorn him into a deep-lying role.
Adjusting his game to meet the demands of a positional change will take time, but Xavi is convinced that an icon of the modern era will remain a useful asset to anyone willing to offer him a platform on which to perfor
He added: “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.
“As you get older there are other things you need to accept like you can’t play three games in a week or 50 games a season, but if you are willing to adapt you can still play at the highest level.
“Wayne Rooney has been one of the best players in Europe over the last ten years – and that has not changed overnight – he still has a lot to offer.”