Jamie Carragher says Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney is older than his years because of the amount of football he has played in his career.
The former Liverpool defender says that Rooney, 30, has the athleticism of a player four or five years older because he started his career at Everton aged just 16.
Rooney has been poor for United this season, scoring just three goals in 16 Premier League matches this season, although he was improved against Chelsea and scored the winner as Louis van Gaal’s team beat Swansea City at Old Trafford on Saturday, ending a run of eight matches without a win.
However, Carragher believes that Rooney is already at the tail-end of his career because of the amount of football he plays and his robust style.
“If you are going to write Wayne Rooney off or say he is back, you can’t say he is back because of one moment in a game and you cannot write him off because of maybe two or three bad games,” Carragher said on Sky Sports.
“We have said before he was playing at 16, so in reality terms he’s maybe like a 33 or 34-year-old player.
“People talk about age, it’s miles on the clock and it’s games played. He must have played nearly 600 games as a centre forward, which is maybe not the same as playing in the position I did.
“I just think that battering from centre-backs and the pressure that is on him, mentally as well, to play from that age of 16, I think we are looking at a player who is getting to the stage of his career where I don’t think he will be playing at the top level at 34-35.
“I just think he’s been playing so long now that maybe it’s 30 on his birth certificate but in terms of games played he’s a 35-year-old player.
“I think for Rooney to answer his critics or show he is still the man to play centre forward for Manchester United he maybe needs a run of 10 games – scoring maybe seven or eight goals.”