Manchester United have churned out a whole host of top-class talent from their academy set-up over the years, boasting an impressive record for continually discovering gem after gem who have gone on to thrive in the first-team.
That being said, like at any side, not every exciting prospect that has been on the club’s books has gone on to star in the senior ranks, as for every success story, there is a notable tale of woe. For every Paul Scholes, there is a Ravel Morrison…
The latter man is arguably one of the greatest examples of what might have been, with the Wythenshawe-born starlet having sparkled in the Red Devils’ youth ranks, earning rave reviews from all across the game for his obvious talent.
Although he was subsequently unable to fulfil that unique potential – making just three first-team appearances during his time at the Theatre of Dreams – to this day his former teammates and coaches still speak glowingly about his rare gift as a footballer.
Having played a key role in the club’s FA Youth Cup triumph in 2011 – as part of a team that included both Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba – Morrison has since been dubbed as the “best player of that generation” by former United midfielder Quinton Fortune.
The now-retired ace had been asked if the playmaker was better than teammate Pogba, before subsequently stating: “Not even a question. It was effortless. It was a once-in-a-lifetime talent. It was like watching Xavi, Iniesta, Neymar, all those guys put together. We were mesmerised by him.”
Former club scout Phil Brogan has also insisted that Morrison “was better” than the World Cup-winning Frenchman, with the club’s other young stars having been in “awe” of a talent who looked “destined to be the best.”
Club legend Gary Neville notably likened the 5 foot 9 ace to the great Paul Gascoigne due to his quality in possession, while even the great man himself Sir Alex Ferguson had seemingly never encountered a talent such as the then-youngster’s.
Unfortunately for all concerned, the midfielder’s tough upbringing and off-field lifestyle appeared to simply get the better of him – in the view of Ferguson – as he has since struggled to ever truly perform at a string of clubs across the globe.
Now something of a journeyman, the 29-year-old is at the 13th professional club of his career, having departed the Red Devils permanently back in 2012 to join West Ham United, with the aforementioned Pogba also moving on to Juventus in that same summer.
While the 91-cap France international has gone on to win major honours and be recognised as one of the best in his position in the world, it is a somewhat sad state of affairs that Morrison has been unable to enjoy a similar career trajectory.
Having left the east London outfit in 2015, the Jamaica international has endured stints in Italy, Sweden, Holland and Mexico – as well as at other clubs in England – although has rarely ever managed to nail down a consistent run of games.
Arguably his most fruitful spell came following a reunion with former United teammate Wayne Rooney at Derby County last season as he netted five goals and four assists in 38 games in all competitions for the Rams – the most appearances he has ever made at one club – before following the former England captain to MLS side DC United back in July.
As his former Hammers boss Sam Allardyce stated, he was the “biggest waste of talent I ever worked with”, with that seemingly encapsulating what has been a frustrating decade for both the player and those that have had to witness such an undoubted talent fall by the wayside.