'In the top 10' - Pique believes Rooney is one of world's best

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique believes that Manchester United forward is one of the world's best players and could play for any club he wanted to

Gerard Pique believes that Wayne Rooney is in the top ten players in the world and could play for any team he wanted to.

Rooney came under criticism for his insipid displays for England at the World Cup, but the Barcelona centre-back has spoken out in defence of his former team-mate.

"For me, Wayne Rooney is the best English player right now and definitely he would be in the top 10 (players in the world)," Pique said.

"He is a top-quality striker, the main player for Manchester United along with Robin van Persie, and he can play in every team in the world that he wants."

The 27-year-old defender played with Rooney for four years at Old Trafford so knows all about his talents and he feels he will thrive under Louis van Gaal’s leadership.

Van Gaal has already impressed United fans by his tactical innovations and his idea to partner Rooney and Van Persie up-front, with Juan Mata behind them, in a 3-4-1-2 formation, has won many admirers.

During the Red Devil’s tour of the USA they have already looked a more threatening unit than they did for much of last season and the signs are encouraging that Van Gaal can be the man to guide them back into title contention.

The new United boss has got Pique’s backing, too, as the Spanish international recalls his own experience with the Dutch manager.

"I think he will be great,” he said.

"I didn't know him a lot because I was really young when he was Barcelona's coach, but he had a really good relationship with my grandfather, the former vice-president of the club.

"I had the chance to see him one day at my grandfather's house when I was 12 or 13 years old.

"He arrived at the house and he knew I was playing for the Barcelona youth team. He pushed me and I fell to the floor, and he said 'you are not tough enough to be a centre-back'.

"So, yes, he really is a disciplinarian, and I think he will do brilliantly there.”

He will be helped along the way by his new additions – with United spending big on Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera already this summer.

They are expected to do some more spending over the course of the transfer window, too, with the likes of Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba still heavily linked.

The hope is that a few more quality signings can help the manager push the squad on to rekindle their form under Sir Alex Ferguson and return to their title winning ways.

If he does, you can be sure that it Pique won’t be the only former United player who speaks out in praise of him over the course of the season.

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