Against the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday, Manchester United ace Wayne Rooney gave a first-class clinic, scoring three of the Red Devils’ seven goals on the night in what ended as a 7-0 win.
Despite the extraordinary demonstration, Rooney believes he still has much to improve and said there are players out there, specifically FC Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi, that are playing at a higher level than him.
“Messi is a great player,” Rooney said, “and I think not just for me, but for every footballer out there, that's the target you want to try to get to, and hopefully I can do that.”
The England international was the epitome of sharp on the night, finishing all three of his scoring opportunities and turning provider on another goal from Gabriel Obertan.
"I'm a player who wants to do well all the time and I know I can always improve,” he said. “So if I keep working and practicing, hopefully I can do that. I don't really set targets, but it would be nice if I can get through the season injury-free. That would be a big boost for me.”
Last season, Rooney missed some time early in the campaign, victim of an ankle injury that kept him out of action and caused his form to drop to the point that he lost his starting spot. Unhappy, the striker asked to leave the club, but all was eventually smoothed out and Rooney returned to Manchester United's first XI and finished with 11 goals in league play, 15 fewer than in 2009-10.
Rooney knows that number is nowhere near what he’s capable of producing and, with the season just weeks away, he wants to use the World Football Challenge as a platform to get even sharper and throw his name back into the conversation of the world’s best players.
“I hope that I'm going to get better and better,” he said. “I work and practice hard every day to try to achieve that, so if I do that, it'll be great for me and the club."