The former Everton forward has played a huge number of matches since bursting onto the scene at a young age and his former team-mate feels that his best may be behind him
Manchester United legend Paul Scholes is concerned Wayne Rooney may be past his peak after playing too many games since his meteoric rise to prominence as a teenager.
The 28-year-old made his Premier League debut at the age of 16 before moving to Old Trafford as an 18-year-old, but has come increasingly under the microscope ahead of the World Cup.
With a huge burden of expectation on his shoulders for both club and country, along with the sheer quantity of matches that he has played, Scholes is worried Rooney may have reached his best earlier than expected.
“Wayne was in the Everton team at 16 years of age, in 2003,” the former United midfielder wrote in a blog for Paddy Power. “Since then he’s played at Euro 2004, two World Cups, Premier League and Champions League every year at United.
“There’s a chance he’s worn out.
“Wayne’s peak may have been a lot younger than what we’d expect of footballers traditionally. Age 28 or 29 has been the normal ‘peak’. With Wayne, it could have been when he scored 27 league goals in 2011-2012 when he was 26.
“Wayne might be a player who’d retire come 31 or 32, given the amount of football he’s played.”
Scholes also suggested Rooney would only cement his place as a world-class player if he performed at a World Cup finals. The Red Devils star has yet to score in the tournament despite playing in two and his former team-mate says that it is time for him to shine on the world stage.
“If Wayne is going to be one of the best footballers in the world, this World Cup is where he has to produce,” Scholes added. “His best attributes are his energy, desire, a will to win which is unbelievable but, above all, his goals.
“He needs to use his energy more effectively now as he’s a player who likes to be up front on his own and I don’t think he’s great with partnerships.
“I’m not saying Wayne needs to be dropped but, if form doesn’t get up to scratch in the warm-ups, or in the first game of the World Cup, it’ll be interesting to see if the England management team has the balls to make that decision.”