Parker: Rooney needs to leave Manchester United but stay in the Premier League

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The England captain has struggled for games at Old Trafford, but Parker believes a China switch would be the wrong move at this point

Former Manchester United defender Paul Parker believes Wayne Rooney has to consider leaving Old Trafford - but only if another Premier League club comes knocking. 

Rooney, 31, has struggled to show his best football in the current term, despite passing Sir Bobby Charlton as United's all-time top scorer. 

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Reports have linked the England captain with a move to China, which could even occur this month, despite Jose Mourinho's hopes of retaining the striker. 

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But according to Parker, Rooney  would be better off seeking a move somewhere else in the English top-flight. 

“It all depends on what Wayne wants to do. Does he want to stay at Manchester United and get the odd opportunity to make his record even harder to beat or is he saying that he wants regular football?"  he said, speaking exclusively to 888sport.

"I would like to think that he doesn’t want to sit on the bench because being successful and winning things then sitting and watching it is an awful feeling. I know what it’s like to taste that then become a bit-part and it must be even worse for Wayne. So does he want to stay and just pick up his money with the camera panning to him on the bench while everyone wonders if he’ll get a game? Then if he does everyone expects him to score.

“If he’s not playing regularly then somewhere down the line England can’t pick him. I don’t care what Gareth Southgate is being told by the FA, if he picks him he would be deemed a puppet. If someone isn’t starting regularly for their club to then pick him for a full international qualifier doesn’t make sense and it wouldn’t fare well with the other players.

“Seeing the calibre of players who have gone out there to China, it’s never too early and we know the reasons why, but if we’re considering his international career then it doesn’t make sense to go to either China or the MLS. Yes, David Beckham still played for England regularly while in the MLS but we know that was down to marketing reasons, with the FA insisting he had to be involved.

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"Under a Bobby Robson or a Terry Venables they would have known you cannot pick someone playing that level of football and Wayne will look at this and realise it just gives people ammunition to say he’s too far away and playing an inferior level of football to represent his country.”

Parker also believes his old club are still capable of running out Premier League champions at the end of the season. 

Jose Mourinho's charges are currently in sixth place after 25 games, 12 points shy of leaders Chelsea at the summit. 

A place in the Champions League would appear the most viable objective for United, who are also in the chase for the Europa League, FA Cup and League Cup. 

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But according to Parker, they should not give up on taking the big prize, despite that hefty deficit. 

“You have to say Manchester United are winning games now and are definitely competing for a Champions League spot especially with the confidence you get from an unbeaten run. And who knows, with a lot of luck Chelsea can still be caught because we’re not into March yet and there are still enough points. The main thing is they are competing, which is what we weren’t getting in previous seasons," he said.

“The League Cup is always big when you need to win something and Manchester United need to win something. Mourinho knows how important it is because he knows what it means for a big club to win trophies. The FA Cup aside it’s been a while now.”

Read the full 888sport interview with Paul Parker, including his thoughts United need to find a leader to take over captaincy from Rooney