Former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan has revealed how he played a part in Wayne Rooney's high-profile move to Old Trafford, after claiming his departure from the Premier League giants in the summer of 2004 is what ultimately led to the Red Devils captain's arrival at the Theatre of Dreams.
In an exclusive column for The National, the Uruguayan hitman talked about the skipper at length, and discussed the unfamiliar central midfield position that he currently finds himself playing in Louis van Gaal's side.
Forlan never actually got the opportunity to play alongside Rooney, but recalled the number of times he featured in matches against the 29-year-old, who he has always regarded as a world-class talent.
"Rooney is a top player and good enough to function in several roles," he explained. "[Manchester] United also have Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao. All three can’t be accommodated up front, and Rooney is better being used out of position than the other two.
"It’s a compromise because the team lose a brilliant finisher, one I first noticed while playing for United’s reserves at Everton in 2003.
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"Rooney was only 16, but we were told he was going to be a top player, that he was strong with quick feet. Very English in his style, too. Young talents are usually still missing something, but Rooney had everything.
"We shook hands afterwards, but my departure from United in 2004 probably was a factor in Rooney arriving at Old Trafford a few weeks later."
"My departure from United in 2004 probably was a factor in Rooney arriving at Old Trafford a few weeks later," - Diego Forlan
Forlan added: "It’s a shame we never played together, but I did the right thing in leaving and won the European golden boot at Villarreal in a season I’d started off as United’s fourth striker."
With a poor return of 17 goals in 98 appearances during his three years at Manchester United, supporters were not particularly sad to see the South American go, despite the fact he picked up form again after his departure at Villarreal, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid.
Looking back it was still a good decision made by Sir Alex Ferguson, especially when you consider Rooney's contribution over the past decade, which has left him third on the list of the club's all-time leading goalscorers behind Sir Bobby Charlton and Denis Law on 225 goals in 465 appearances.
Of the nine goals Rooney has scored this season, six have been netted whilst playing as a striker or in behind, whereas only three have come from his deeper midfield role.
As for his five assists, only one has been made from midfield and the other four have come from the more advanced positions, which suggests Van Gaal should probably consider returning the Red Devils talisman to his preferred position.
Manchester United fans: What do you think? Should Wayne Rooney be playing as a striker? If so, who should Louis van Gaal drop from the side - Robin van Persie or Radamel Falcao? Share your thoughts below...
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