Man Utd's 'best striker' Wayne Rooney will still play in midfield, Van Gaal says

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has said Wayne Rooney may be the best of the strikers he has to choose from, but insisted the balance of the team was best served by his captain playing in a midfield role.

Rooney, United's third-highest scorer of all time, has been used by Van Gaal in a deeper position this season, with Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao and youngster James Wilson getting chances to lead the line.

The statistic that Rooney has yet to get a shot on target in the Premier League in 2015 has added weight to the theory that he should be given an opportunity to resume his striking role.

But Van Gaal told newspaper reporters: "Rooney is maybe the best striker.

"But I have explained already a lot of times that my selection is not made because someone is not a good player.

"I have to compare and I have to look at what is the biggest contribution where a player can play, and other players also. The composition of the team is more important than the individual player."

England manager Roy Hodgson has suggested he would continue to use Rooney as a striker in the national team.

Van Gaal backed that decision and claimed the players he has to call upon offer a different blend to that of the England team.

"In the composition of Mr Hodgson's team, Rooney is probably giving more contribution when he is playing in the striker's position," Van Gaal continued. "I [would] also put him in the striker's position if I was the coach of the English team.

"I have to choose between Falcao, Van Persie and all the other strikers I have. Then my consideration is a different one. It is about putting together a team as a whole."

The United boss also confirmed that he would not make his judgement on whether to sign Falcao on a permanent deal purely on the number of goals the on-loan striker scores in the remaining months of the season.

Reports suggest United have a deal in place with Monaco to convert their season-long deal for the Colombian into a permanent transfer if Van Gaal gives the transfer the green light.

"There are more aspects for a striker than goals," he said. "For example, in the game with Burnley [last Tuesday] you have seen the header back for [Chris] Smalling to score was from Falcao. That is also an aspect, an assist is also an aspect.

"I shall not judge only on the goals. It is a bigger view than that."

Also on Saturday, sources told ESPN FC that United had opened talks with Ashley Young over a new contract.