Manchester United were denied the opportunity to unearth the new Luka Modric after Sir Alex Ferguson blocked Norwegian youngster Magnus Eikrem's path into the first-team, according to René Meulensteen.
Eikrem joined the Premier League champions from hometown club Molde as a 16-year-old, before graduating from the Red Devils' esteemed academy, but was never given a fair crack of the whip at senior level.
Having failed to make the grade at Old Trafford, the midfielder was allowed to move back to Molde, where he joined up with former Manchester United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but Meulensteen believes he was not given an opportunity to prove his worth.
Meulensteen, a Manchester United coach under Ferguson, compared the 23-year-old to Real Madrid's Luka Modric during their time together with the Red Devils, and thinks his former club missed a trick by not retaining the services of the playmaker.
"Magnus was very small in stature, but footballing wise stuck out head and shoulders above the rest. At United I compared him to Luka Modric, who I also find a great player," Meulensteen told Voetbal International.
"Strong on the ball, technically and tactically very good. I worked quite a lot with Magnus, so I regret that he never got a chance."
Meulensteen claims that he was willing to place Eikrem, who is now with Dutch club Heerenveen, into the Manchester United senior side, but he and his manager disagreed on the subject.
He added: "I would have dared to put him in the first team, but the manager didn't find him good enough."