Jose Mourinho has suggested that Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney will not play in midfield for him next season.
Rooney, 30, had been used in a deeper midfield role for United and also England at Euro 2016 but, speaking at his first news conference as manager at Old Trafford, Mourinho hinted that was not where he saw his future.
“There are many jobs on the field. The most difficult to find is one to put the ball in the net,” he said. “It is normal that a player at his age will change a little bit.
“One thing that will never change is his natural appetite to put the ball in the net. Maybe he is not a striker, not a No. 9 anymore. But with me he will never be a No. 6, playing 50m from goal.
“Yes, his passing is amazing but mine is also amazing without pressure. Many players have a great pass, but to put the ball in the net is the most difficult. He will be a No. 9, a No. 10, a No. 9.5, but never a No. 6 or a No. 8.”
Mourinho was also asked about his plans for future transfers after signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Eric Bailly. The Portuguese insisted he wanted four key players to strengthen the side, with two of them arriving and a third, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, on his way.
“I don’t know, yet. The third player [Mkhitaryan] will be official soon — I can try to make you understand the profile. We made a nucleus of four priorities, four positions, to give a certain balance to the squad,” he added.
“To give a certain push in terms of the qualities I need and want. As you know, the ones with more vision. I am more a manager that likes specialists rather than multi-functional players because I am clear in my approach. Multi-functional players — you need one or two if you have three central defenders injured. But, basically, I want specialists.”
United fans can look forward to another signing with sources saying that the club are confident of bringing in Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba.
“We decided four targets. We have three at the moment. Until we don’t have the fourth, we are still working hard,” Mourinho added. “Myself, the structure, Mr Woodward, the owners. When we have the fourth we will breathe. The market will be open. We will get the fourth before 31 August, and we will be stable but the market will be open.”