• Premier League

Van Gaal: Rooney is United's best striker

ESPN staff
February 15, 2015
Van Gaal defends Rooney midfield selection

Louis van Gaal says Wayne Rooney may be Manchester United's best striker - but the Dutchman insists he needs his captain in midfield.

Rooney's is the third-highest scorer in the club's history, but Van Gaal has used him in a deeper position this season, with Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao and academy prospect James Wilson getting their chances to lead the line.

The statistic that Rooney has yet to record a shot on target in the Premier League in 2015 has added weight to the theory that the United skipper should be given an opportunity to resume his striking role, but Van Gaal refused to budge when pushed on his selection dilemmas.

Wayne Rooney has been used in midfield by Louis van Gaal this season © Getty Images

"Rooney is maybe the best striker," said Van Gaal. "But I have explained already a lot of times that my selection is not made because someone is not a good player.

"I have to compare and I have to look at what is the biggest contribution where a player can play, and other players also. The composition of the team is more important than the individual player."

England manager Roy Hodgson has suggested he would continue to use Rooney as a striker in his team, with Van Gaal backing that decision and claiming the players he has to call upon offer a different blend to that of the English national team.

"In the composition of Mr Hodgson's team, Rooney is probably giving more contribution when he is playing in the striker's position," continued Van Gaal. "I [would] also put him in the striker's position if I was the coach of the English team.

"I have to choose between Falcao, Van Persie and all the other strikers I have. Then my consideration is a different one. It is about putting together a team as a whole."

Van Gaal also confirmed he would not make a judgement on whether to sign Falcao on a permanent deal next summer purely on the number of goals the on-loan Colombian striker scores in the remaining months of this season.

Reports suggest United have a deal in place with Monaco to convert their season-long deal for Falcao into a permanent transfer if Van Gaal gives the transfer the green light, with that decision still on ice.

"There are more aspects for a striker than goals," said Van Gaal. "For example in the game with Burnley [last Tuesday] you have seen the header back for [Chris] Smalling to score was from Falcao. That is also an aspect, an assist is also an aspect.

"To be approachable for your fellow players is also an aspect. I shall not judge only on the goals. It is a bigger view than that."

Meanwhile, sources have told ESPN that United have opened talks with Ashley Young over a new contract.

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