Manchester United's all-time leading scorer Wayne Rooney has questioned the Old Trafford futures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba, saying that the club needs to go with "younger, hungry players" to lift them out of their current malaise.
United are set to endure their fifth-straight season without a trophy following their elimination from the Champions League by Atletico Madrid last month. They also face an uphill battle to make next season's Champions League, with the side currently languishing down in seventh place in the Premier League.
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Ronaldo has scored 18 goals in all competitions so far this season since arriving from Juventus. But Rooney, who played alongside Ronaldo during the Portugal star's first spell at Old Trafford, said last summer's signing has not worked out.
"You'd have to say no at the minute," Rooney told Sky Sports. "He's scored goals, important goals in the Champions League early on in the season. He scored obviously the hat-trick against Tottenham.
"But I think if you're looking to the future of the club, you have to go with younger, hungry players to lift Manchester United over these next two or three years.
"Obviously, Cristiano is getting on a bit. He certainly isn't the player he was in his 20s and that happens -- that's football. He's a goal threat but the rest of the game they need more and they need young, hungry players."
🗣️ "He's a goal threat but the rest of the game, they need more."— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) April 4, 2022
Wayne Rooney gives his assessment on whether it was a mistake for Man Utd to resign Cristiano Ronaldo 🔴 pic.twitter.com/pwylLNO0Pt
There also continues to be much talk about the status of another of Rooney's former United teammates currently in his second spell at the club. And with Pogba's contract set to expire this summer, Rooney believes it is time for the France midfielder to seek a new challenge.
"It's probably got to a point now where it probably is better to move on," Rooney said. "And I think if Paul is honest with himself he probably hasn't had the impact he would have liked since he returned to Manchester United.
"I watch him play for France and it's a completely different player.
"It just hasn't quite worked for Manchester United for him and I think there's a few players they need to let go."
Rooney, who revealed last week that he aims to one day become Manchester United manager, also weighed in on who should take over from interim manager Ralf Rangnick for next season.
ESPN reported last month that United had interviewed Ajax boss Erik ten Hag, though current Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino remains a contender.
"I think Pochettino has done it in the Premier League, he knows the Premier League," Rooney said. "At Tottenham he brought a lot of young players through, at Southampton as well.
"So if I'm choosing from one of them two [Pochettino or Ten Hag] that's who I'd choose, I'd go with Pochettino. And give him time. Managers now need time to come in, put their blueprint on the club and the team. If you give him time I think he'll do well."