Manchester United are missing Rooney's goals, says Diego Forlan

Wayne Rooney

The former Manchester United striker has commented on Wayne Rooney's deployment as a midfielder.

Manchester United are losing out on a brilliant finisher by playing Wayne Rooney as a central midfielder, former Red Devils striker Diego Forlan has told The National.

Since Louis van Gaal moved the United captain deeper into the midfield role in mid-December his performances have stagnated somewhat, and much debate has emerged about where he should actually be playing.

United aren't short of players who can occupy Rooney's position in midfield, but that would mean moving him further forward and dropping either Radamel Falcao or Robin van Persie, something van Gaal hasn't yet done despite their poor form this season.

Forlan, who scored a dismal 17 goals in 98 appearances for United between 2001-04, believes Rooney's position change is a compromise so that United's misfiring front pair can start in attack.

He wrote in his column for The National: "Rooney is a top player and good enough to function in several roles. United also have Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao. All three can’t be accommodated up front, and Rooney is better being used out of position than the other two.

"It’s a compromise because the team lose a brilliant finisher, one I first noticed while playing for United’s reserves at Everton in 2003.

"Rooney was only 16, but we were told he was going to be a top player, that he was strong with quick feet. Very English in his style, too. Young talents are usually still missing something, but Rooney had everything.

"We shook hands afterwards, but my departure from United in 2004 probably was a factor in Rooney arriving at Old Trafford a few weeks later."

The England captain is a player who scores and makes goals for others, and those abilities are by far his best traits. Being deployed in deeper positions restricts his talent tremendously and the statistics prove it.

Of Rooney's nine goals this season, six have been scored playing as a striker or just behind, whereas only three have come from midfield. As for his five assists, only one has been made from midfield and the other four have come from the more advanced positions.

United's number 10 is taking fewer shots and is barely getting into the opposition box nowadays. The difference his positional change has made is tiny and, if you compare the stats, van Gaal would benefit from dropping a striker, pushing Rooney forward and starting £30 million Ander Herrera in the middle.

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch