Ex-Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson believes Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney is already in decline because he broke on to the professional scene so early.
Rooney could return to the United starting XI against Fenerbahce on Thursday night having been used from the bench in his club's previous four games, while England's all-time record scorer also lost his place in the national team's line-up in Slovenia last week.
This week marks the 14th anniversary of Rooney's first top-flight goal against Arsenal but, ahead of his 31st birthday on Monday, the forward is no longer first choice for either club or country.
Lawrenson thinks time has already called caught up with Rooney, citing the career of Michael Owen, who exited the game at 33 having slowed down considerably from the teenage sensation who first emerged at Liverpool.
Lawrenson told Press Association Sport:
Basically, when your legs go, your legs go. He (Rooney) is still a very, very talented player but if you can't get around the pitch you've got to find a position where you want to play.
He'll play lots of games for Manchester United, they're not suddenly going to go, 'Your legs have gone, you're going to sign for someone else'.
But he's had an unbelievable career. Sometimes, it's a bit like Michael Owen. Michael Owen burst on to the scene when he was really young, as did Wayne Rooney, he was 16 when he scored that wonder goal against Arsenal. Maybe that's just your career.
For him, I think the reason why he's coming to the end early is because he was a beast of a man when he was 16, as he is now. That's just the way it is. It's a bit like tennis players, some go from 18 until their 25, some get to their thirties. It's just your career.
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Robin van Persie admits he could have been lining up against Fenerbahce in Thursday night's Europa League clash had Sir Alex Ferguson still been in charge of Manchester United.
The Dutch striker was voted United's Player of the Year in his first season at Old Trafford in 2012-13 as the Red Devils romped to the Premier League title by 11 points.
Ferguson announced his retirement at the end of that season and Van Persie struggled under the guidance of new boss David Moyes and then fellow Dutchman Louis van Gaal.
He left for Turkey in July 2015 and has scored 17 goals in 35 appearances for the club so far.
When asked if he felt he would still be at United had Ferguson stayed on, Van Persie told a press conference:
We will never know. It could have been that I could have been a player for Manchester United today.
When I signed that was the idea, that Sir Alex would stay on for a few more years, but in football things change, you can't plan your own path or your coach's path. In this world you have to deal with how it comes.
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Manchester United defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah has signed a new long-term contract with the club.
United boss Jose Mourinho had been keen to tie down the highly-rated 18-year-old, who has impressed him during his time at Old Trafford.
And Fosu-Mensah's new deal means he will stay at the club until 2020 - with the option to extend for a further year.
Mourinho told United's official website: "Tim is a young player with great potential. I am pleased that he has signed a new contract and I am delighted at the progress he has made so far.
"It is clear to see that he is learning every day in training and there will be plenty of opportunities for him as the season continues."
Fosu-Mensah joined United in 2014 and worked his way through the academy and Under-21 teams before making his Premier League debut against Arsenal last season.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Anthony Martial and Morgan Schneiderlin all look set to be available for Manchester United's Europa League clash with Fenerbahce at Old Trafford on Thursday.
Playmaker Mkhitaryan has missed seven games because of a thigh problem, while forward Martial and midfielder Schneiderlin were not involved in Monday's 0-0 Premier League draw at Liverpool due to knocks, but all three were part of United's training session on Wednesday morning.
Boss Jose Mourinho has refused to confirm whether or not captain Wayne Rooney will return to the first XI after four straight substitute appearances.