Louis van Gaal has told Wayne Rooney he can continue playing at the very top for Manchester United for a number of years yet if he retains his ambition and physical fitness.
The Manchester United and England captain turns 30 on Saturday, and although he is closing in on the club’s all-time goalscoring record – as well as recently becoming his country’s top marksman – questions have been raised over his performances at club level this season.
The player made his breakthrough at the age of 16 at Everton and almost 14 years on, has clocked up almost 600 games for club and country.
And Van Gaal says the birthday boy can continue at the top as long as he maintains his hunger and fitness.
“It [how long he plays for] is dependent on the player,” said Van Gaal.
“You cannot pre-judge that. It is dependent how he lives, how strong he is, how ambitious – it is dependent on a lot of factors.
“We have to wait and see.”
Rooney is the record goal scorer in Manchester derbies with 11 but Van Gaal is not surprised his captain has thrived in the clashes between the two bitter rivals over the years.
He added: “I think all the great players love such a challenge, not only Wayne but also the other big players we have and that is also the case for the big players of Manchester City.
“They love these kinds of matches.”
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