Regardless of whether or not Wayne Rooney finishes his career at Manchester United, his importance for club and country remains paramount entering the twilight stages of his career.
The England captain, who is currently with Roy Hodgson’s squad in France for Euro 2016, finished last season with just 15 goals to his name – two behind top scorer Anthony Martial.
However, despite his prowess in front of goal clearly waning, United must ensure they keep Rooney at the club with Jose Mourinho now the man charged with coaxing the best from the former Everton forward.
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In recent years, Rooney has been criticised for his failure to hit the same goalscoring heights of old, with the rise of Martial and youngster Marcus Rashford leading to many writing him off and labelling him as 'past it'.
He scored at the World Cup two years ago, but was still mocked for his failure to keep England in the tournament, and United’s struggles since the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era has seen many use him as a scapegoat.
There can be no denying that his best days as a striker are behind him, something Louis van Gaal and Roy Hodgson realised in the past few months, but that is not to say that he cannot remain an important part of United’s future.
Here are two reasons why the veteran can still play a huge part in United's future under Mourinho.
With his spectacular passing ability coupled with his composure in front of goal, it is only natural that Rooney’s performances in midfield for club and country have drawn comparisons with ex-Red Devil Paul Scholes.
Even despite landing the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Ander Herrera, and Morgan Schneiderlin in recent years, there can be no doubting that the 30-year-old is United’s best midfielder at the current time.
The best players are often able to tailor their game the more they grow older – Ryan Giggs was proof of that during his final few seasons at Old Trafford – and Rooney’s performances hint at a player not ready to quit the Premier League anytime soon.
He has always been an attack-minded player, and now he is free of the shackles imposed on him by Van Gaal’s rigid style of management, he can show his class under Mourinho’s tutelage.
Since Ferguson retired three years ago, many club stalwarts of title-winning sides have departed, with Patrice Evra, Jonny Evans, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, and Robin van Persie all joining Giggs and Scholes out of the exit door in recent years.
This means that Rooney’s experience is crucial going into the club’s latest rebuild, with the England captain and Michael Carrick the sole remaining members of their Champions League winning squad of 2008.
United must ensure they keep their club captain for as long as they can.
Rooney is not the player he once was, but the one he is now can still help Mourinho bring the glory days back to Old Trafford.
Can Wayne Rooney still play a vital role for Manchester United? Let us know YOUR thoughts in the comment section below!