Xavi: Wayne Rooney should play in 'deeper role' for Manchester United

Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney should drop back into a deeper role in midfield, according to former Barcelona star Xavi.

Rooney, 30, has struggled up front this season, scoring just two Premier League goals in nine appearances and has come under pressure for his poor performances. Meanwhile, summer signing Anthony Martial has scored three goals in six games despite playing on the wing.

However Xavi, who left Barcelona for Qatari side Al Sadd in the summer, believes Rooney should be considering a different role for his club.

"Personally I think Rooney still has much to offer, but maybe it's time for him to adapt," Xavi said in quotes reported by the Daily Mirror. "You get to an age and you can't play the game you once used to, you can't cover the ground you used to.

"But intelligent players adapt and there's no doubting Rooney has a very good footballing brain.

"Maybe it's time for a new striker at Manchester United, who can run for 90 minutes, but Rooney would be very dangerous in a deeper role. He has the vision and the passing range to play that role very well.

"If he can adapt, there's no reason why he can't play at the top level for another five or six seasons. But as a player you must admit to yourself your body is changing and can't do what it used to be able to do."

Xavi played under United manager Louis van Gaal when he was at Barcelona and knows first-hand how ruthless the Dutchman can be.

"Wayne Rooney is a player I have admired for a long time," he added. "He is an extraordinary player with extraordinary capabilities.

"Van Gaal does not respect names though. It doesn't matter if you are the best player in the world, if he wants to drop you from the team, then he will drop you from the team.

"I respect and like Van Gaal because he is honest and direct, and I like to deal with people like that, but it can be hard to listen to his harsh criticism at times. But if you do, it will ultimately improve you."