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Chinese move a good option for Rooney, says Eriksson

Stoke City 1-1 Man United

By Phil Medlicott

Moving to China could be a good future option for Wayne Rooney, according to his former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Rooney became Manchester United's outright all-time highest scorer as he netted a superb late free-kick in a 1-1 Premier League draw at Stoke on Saturday, his 250th goal for the club.

The 31-year-old had come off the bench, and has made only eight league starts so far this season.

Several high-profile players have moved from Europe to play in the Chinese Super League, with Chelsea striker Diego Costa one of the latest to be strongly linked with such a switch.

And when asked if he would encourage Rooney to go over, Eriksson, who has been coaching in China since 2013, told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme: "He has to make that decision together with his family and agent and so on, but why not?

"China today is a great place to live. If you have never been in China, you don't believe your eyes when you come here today.

"And I'm sure Rooney could play in any team here."

Eriksson did stress that making the move and being a success in China is not as straightforward as many have assumed.

The 68-year-old Swede said: "I think it's important for the players coming... It's not that easy, and you have to be focused on what you are doing.

"Many top players are thinking they will come here, and top strikers for example are thinking they will easily score 20 to 25 goals.

"But it is not that easy, even if they are big, big names."

Eriksson is in no doubt as to the quality and standing of Rooney, who with Saturday's goal moved past Sir Bobby Charlton on the all-time United list - the same man he succeeded as England's highest scorer in 2015.

Asked if Rooney was one of the great players, Eriksson, who handed him his England debut in 2003, said: "Yes, of course, and he has been for a long time.

"He is on the same stage as them (Charlton, Denis Law and George Best), of course.

"He is a great player - he has the England goalscoring record, now he has the Manchester United goalscoring record, and he has many years to go still.

"He is a great player. He can play striker, second striker, winger, midfielder. Fantastic.

"He is still a fantastic football player. Maybe with age you lose a little bit of speed, but he is clever and can play in different positions. He is still important for United I think and still important for England."

When it was put to Eriksson that there may have been some disappointment towards Rooney because he had looked potentially the best player in the world in his early days but never quite reached those heights, he said: "I think that is unfair.

"Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have been the best players for some years now, but football is not only Ronaldo and Messi.

"And if you have in England one of the three, four, five best players in the world, fantastic."

STOKE: Grant, Johnson, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters, Adam (Afellay, 63 mins), Whelan, Shaqiri (Ngoy, 74 mins), Allen, Arnautovic (Imbula, 88 mins), Crouch. Unused subs: Given; Bardsley, Muniesa, Bojan.

MAN UTD: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Blind, Pogba, Herrera, Mata (Rooney, 67 mins), Fellaini (Rashford, 56 mins), Mkhitaryan (Lingard, 73 mins), Ibrahimovic. Unused subs: Romero, Darmian, Carrick, Schweinsteiger.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg

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