Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa has failed to live up to expectation at Manchester United so far, but Louis van Gaal may have identified a way to help him out.
Kagawa, 25, failed to score last season, and took until March 29 to register his first assist.
Louis van Gaal complained last month about his unbalanced squad, with several players capable of performing in the playmaker role, and having given Juan Mata license to roam in the number 10 role, Kagawa faces being shuffled out of the pack.
Yet the creative Dutch boss has identified a deeper role for Kagawa, as a way to get him involved, testing him there at times during pre-season.
Kagawa told ManUtd Japan: "It has been seven or eight years since I played as a defensive midfielder, but the important thing is I do my best in whatever position I am asked to play in, I have to achieve results wherever I play.
"The boss told me to be mindful about the distance between defensive midfielders and to be more conscious of the choices I make when I receive the ball – in other words, how I should help build the attack."
With Rooney also capable of playing in Mata's role, Kagawa was not even assured of being second choice, while Marouane Fellaini and Nick Powell also options.
It makes sense therefore for Kagawa to attempt to make himself useful in another position and adapt his game, if he wants to become a regular, especially as a spot in central midfield is there for the taking.
His comments that he played there before in his teens at least suggest he has some knowledge from which to build, and his technical skills make it possible for him to adjust. Whether he has the physical stature to stand up in midfield in the Premier League remains to be seen, but he is determined to succeed at United and this may be his best bet of making it work.