Juan Sebastian Veron was a wonderful player to watch in his prime, though it’s a pity he never truly settled into the Premier League.
An elegant midfielder who could play virtually anywhere in the middle third, the Argentine became the first non-UEFA player to break the English transfer record when he joined Manchester United in July 2001.
His £24.3 million price tag ensured he was under constant pressure from the moment he set foot at Old Trafford - and it showed on the pitch as his debut season progressed.
The initial signs were more than promising; Veron scored in three of the Red Devils’ four matches during September to earn the Player of the Month award.
However, his brilliant start was gradually forgotten as the frantic pace of English football began to take its toll on his need for time and space in possession.
Simply put, Veron was the type of player never likely to succeed in the Premier League based on his playing style alone.
Reflecting on this example, it could be argued there are a handful of players in a similar predicament whom Jose Mourinho has bought for United with no clear plan to maximise their influence.
Costing upwards of £415 million, the signings made under the Portuguese boss have often made to fit into his team rather than slotting into a natural role.
Familiar with such a situation, Veron claims to understand the underlying reason.
United lost a significant part of their identity when Sir Alex Ferguson retired in May 2013 - and the South American believes the effect of his departure is evident in the club’s current state of flux.
“Mourinho is a great manager, for me he really is,” Veron said at Soccerex USA, per Goal.
“However, I think United have struggled to find the proper replacement following Ferguson’s retirement. Mourinho is a great manager, he’s doing his best at United.
“Maybe he is the right one, but after all Ferguson achieved at the club he is going to need some time in order to implement his idea.
“The departure of Ferguson had a really bad impact on them. They have not been able to find their way yet, having made a few changes already.
“Manchester City have found an idea in terms of football while United, following Ferguson’s departure, have struggled to do so.
“But they are a big club so hopefully they’ll find their [football] idea in the future.”
So, despite his observation, Veron believes it’s only a matter of time until Mourinho gets his United squad to click.
There’s no telling how long the process could take, which by then Pep Guardiola and City could well have established a lasting dominance in England and beyond.
Does the gap between the Manchester clubs stem from a respective lack of vision? Let us know what you think by leaving the comment.