Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown has suggested the imminent Manchester United signing of Juan Mata could completely change star forward Wayne Rooney.
Keown was questioned over how David Moyes could fit Juan Mata into the Manchester United midfield and he suggested one of the likeliest scenarios would see Rooney change from a forward into a midfield man.
“If United go with two strikers like Man City, then you could use somebody like Januzaj on the right and Mata on the left, cutting inside like David Silva or Samir Nasri. But he would be better behind the front man. It's a bit left field, but it could be that Rooney moves deeper and plays in midfield and acts like a Yaya Toure,” said Keown in his weekly Q&A session for the Daily Mail.
Shinji Kagawa is the perfect example of what can happen to a central midfielder out on Manchester United’s left wing and Mata struggled in a similar role at Chelsea at the start of the season.
The signing of Mata seems to be about injecting some creativity and quality in United’s midfield which means the Spaniard would have to surely play through the centre, protected by Michael Carrick or Marouane Fellaini when he returns.
If United do switch to a five man midfield, one striker system then Rooney is certainly good enough to drop off from the front and play a midfield type of role as Keown points out.
“He could be the man who picks out the Paul Scholes passes and Mata plays a bit in front of him - But for Moyes to get RVP, Mata and Rooney on the pitch at the same time, he has to come up with a system. I don't think Rooney would be as useful out wide but he could make a difference in a more central, deeper role,” added the ex-Arsenal man.
That will create another problem over the second half of the season because Rooney has made it clear that he’s not ready to drop off and become a consistent midfield player yet in his career.
That could impact on any new contract negotiations over the second half of the season but an alternative could be for Moyes to leave Rooney where he’s been most successful this season.
Rooney looks happy and confident playing just of the main striker, pushing forward when United are in attack and if that means leaving Mata to control the pace and tempo of United’s play with another holding player protecting him and the defence, it could just work.
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