Wayne Rooney
Rooney will captain United from the start of this season.Getty Images/Clive Brunskill

New Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has been labelled as an inspiration by manager Louis van Gaal upon being handed the armband for the new season.

The 28 year old replaces Nemanja Vidic following the Serbian centre-back's departure at the end of the season, while Darren Fletcher has been installed as vice-captain.

Rooney is United's third-highest goalscorer of all-time and skippered the side in their final pre-season fixture against Valencia on Tuesday before being given the responsibility of leading the club this term.

"For me it's always very important the choice of captain," Van Gaal explained. "Wayne has shown a great attitude towards everything he does.

"I have been very impressed by his professionalism and his attitude to training and to my philosophy. He is a great inspiration to the younger members of the team and I believe he will put his heart and soul into his captaincy role.

"Darren Fletcher will become the vice-captain. Darren is a natural leader and will captain the team when Wayne isn't playing. Darren is a very experienced player and a very popular member of the dressing room; I know he will work well alongside Wayne."

"It is a huge honour for me – and for my family – to be named captain of this great club," Rooney added.

"It is a role I will perform with great pride. Team spirit has always been very high in our dressing room and I am very grateful to the manager for the faith he has shown in me. I look forward to leading the team out on Saturday at our first match of the new season."

Robin van Persie had thought to be under consideration having captained Van Gaal's Netherlands side in the World Cup finals, but fitness problems have seen the forward overlooked for the role.

Fletcher and Tom Cleverley both skippered United during their pre-season schedule as Van Gaal considered his options, but Rooney – who is also among the contenders for the vacant England captaincy – has been handed the responsibility which cements his future at Old Trafford.

Rooney will lead United out for the first time as permanent captain in Saturday's Premier League opener against Swansea City.