Rooney close to world's best - Moyes

Rooney close to world's best - Moyes

Published Feb. 19, 2010 7:20 p.m. ET

David Moyes has buried the hatchet with Wayne Rooney and admitted his former striker is destined to become one of the best in the world.

Everton boss Moyes fell out with the Manchester United and England star prior to his acrimonious £27million move to Old Trafford in 2004.

The pair later became involved in a libel dispute following claims by Rooney in his autobiography but that was settled two years ago and Moyes now has the utmost respect for the 24-year-old.

Rooney has been in outstanding form for United, scoring 25 times this season, and he will be reunited with Moyes as the Barclays Premier League champions visit his boyhood club on Saturday.

Moyes said: "I think Wayne is a top player and I think he is going to be a great player.

"He has added goals to his game, maturity, understanding - all the things you would expect from a maturing player.

"I think time will be the test of whether he becomes the best in the world but he is certainly getting very close to it."

One of Rooney's written criticisms was that Moyes was overbearing but the player has since apologised.

Moyes now believes Everton can feel proud of the role they played in Rooney's development but he thinks the club have learned lessons from the way his situation was handled.

Rooney came through the Everton ranks and was tipped for stardom even before he burst into the first team at the age of 16.

Moyes said: "All credit to Wayne, he rang me to apologise about a year ago for all the things he wrote in his book.

"That was something that made me realise he was a maturing man.

"He realised what he had been given at Everton was great and his development, what we tried to do, was right.

"All in all, I think Wayne would probably look back on his time at Everton as being good.

"We probably weren't ready for Wayne Rooney at the time. I think we would be more ready now."

While Rooney will undoubtedly hope to make his mark at his former stomping ground, Everton will have a striker of their own wanting to impress against old employers.

Louis Saha has enjoyed a new lease of life since joining Everton from United at the start of last season, putting behind him an injury-ravaged four-year spell at Old Trafford.

The Frenchman has scored 15 goals this term and struck twice to stun league leaders Chelsea nine days ago.

Moyes said: "I don't think he has got a point to prove against them, Louis is well known as a top player wherever he has been.

"He had a difficult last couple of years at Manchester United because of injury but I think overall most people would say he is one of those strikers that can be very difficult to play against."

United will hope to take advantage of the lunchtime kick-off to put pressure on Chelsea, who play at Wolves later in the afternoon.

Victory would, possibly only briefly, take United top of the table but Moyes has assured them of a tough contest.

In-form Everton have lost just one of their last 11 league outings to move up to ninth and possibly into European contention.

Moyes said: "We have a belief here we can beat any team on our day.

"Manchester United has been a difficult fixture in the past but I think overall, with the players we have got here, that they will certainly be given a game."

Everton, however, must fill a void in midfield after losing the services of two key midfielders in Marouane Fellaini and Tim Cahill.

Fellaini was ruled out for the season with an ankle injury earlier this week and his loss was compounded when Cahill strained a damaged calf in the Europa League defeat of Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday.

Moyes added: "It has been a really difficult season not helped by losing Marouane Fellaini and Tim Cahill.

"We seemed to be saying we were getting players back.

"It is as well we do feel in good fettle because we are winning, we are on a run. We have got to watch we don't lose any more."