If Ravel Morrison had 75 per cent of the “mentality and drive” that Cristiano Ronaldo possesses then he could have been an unbelievable footballer, says former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen.
A man who graduated through the Red Devils’ academy system in the same side as Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard has found himself back in the headlines of late.
United’s all-time leading goalscorer, Wayne Rooney, has claimed that Morrison was better than the rest of his generation at Old Trafford by “a country mile”.
Said talent was rather wasted, with the 27-year-old – who has taken in a nomadic career since leaving United – conceding that he did not take his football as seriously as he should have done.
Meulensteen was among those who tried to keep Morrison on the right track, having been a youth-team coach at United, and he believes an enigmatic talent boasted the potential to be great.
The Dutchman told talkSPORT of Morrison: “I got to know him when he was in the under-9s when I first joined Manchester United in 2001.
“I saw something in Ravel that was the closest to Paul Gascoigne.
“He had a swagger about him, he had a way of going past people like they weren’t even there, he had a change of pace, he could dribble with both feet, he could change angles, he was unpredictable.
“That was not the problem. When he was there, when he was training, he was fantastic, he was not a problem, because he loved it. It was when he left, when he got in a different environment outside of the club, where we all know he was not in the best of environments that could have helped him.
“I was fortunate to work with someone like Cristiano Ronaldo, and if you look at his mentality and drive, if only Ravel would have had 75 per cent of that he would have become an unbelievable player, because he had so much going for him naturally.
“It’s very hard to predict, but if that mentality had been there he would have been a top, top player.”
Meulensteen says United gave Morrison every chance to become the player they believed he could be, but his inability to settle anywhere highlights how difficult he can be to handle.
“Believe me, Manchester United did not leave a stone unturned to try and get him on the right track,” added Sir Alex Ferguson’s former assistant.
“He’s had something like ten clubs since leaving United, and every manager who has brought him in has seen his talent, but every single one of them has experienced the same problems.
“They couldn’t get him to understand what it takes to be a really good professional footballer.
“It’s the most frustrating thing, because we didn’t leave any stone unturned, we had millions of conversations with him, which a lot of the time Ravel acknowledged, he nodded his head, said he understood, but it was the same behaviour all the time.”