Paul Scholes believes that even Lionel Messi would struggle to produce his best in a Manchester United shirt.
The club has shelled out enormous sums on top players since 2013 but none of them have managed to excel during their time at Old Trafford.
Players like Angel Di Maria, Memphis Depay, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Paul Pogba and Radamel Falcao have all dazzled at other clubs but, for one reason or another, never looked comfortable once at Man United.
And Scholes, reflecting on the club’s troubles, claimed that even Messi – the most talented player of all time – would likewise fail to succeed as a United player.
Talent alone is never enough. Talent needs to be nurtured, augmented, guided towards a particular end. Look at how Pep Guardiola has carefully constructed an ideal role in attack for Raheem Sterling, who now scores for fun. Look at the way Jurgen Klopp got the best out of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane as a trio, combining their talents in a way which made the end product greater than the sum of its parts.
At United, it feels like the opposite. This is a club which, for whatever reason, splashed out nearly £100m on Memphis and Di Maria for a manager who hates dribbling. Why has Pogba, a World Cup winner, served as a source of frustration above anything when he puts on a United shirt?
When there is no tangible direction from the top of the club, the team itself will suffer. Talent alone – even talent as extraterrestrial as Messi’s – is not enough to make this club successful.