Warren Joyce admits bringing in former Manchester United wonderkid Ravel Morrison on trial is a ‘long shot’ – but it could prove to be the transfer coup of the century for Wigan Athletic.
The 23-year-old, who has barely played since joining Italian giants Lazio in the summer of 2015, has been training with Latics while Joyce and his management team assess his fitness levels.
Having worked with him at close quarters during their time together at Manchester United, Joyce acknowledges it’s a gamble well worth taking.
“He’s an unlocker – he can create goals, and he can score goals,” enthused the Latics chief.
“If he can get anywhere near the ability levels and fitness levels he was at...he was playing in sides with the likes of (Will) Keane, (Jesse) Lingard, (Paul) Pogba, and he was possibly one of the star players in that team.
“Talent-wise, and managing games and ability-wise, he’s an x-million pound player – the kind you wouldn’t normally be able to bring to this club.
“It’s a long shot, bearing in mind what he’s done with his fitness. But we’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
“It’s worth the game for very minimal, almost nothing, outlay.
“Obviously he’s not played in England for a long period, and it’s seeing exactly where he’s at and how long or how short the period of time would be to get fit enough to be like he was in the past, to be useful to us in our situation.
“I’ll know pretty much myself in the next week or so, with the tests we’re giving him, how long that period will be.”
While Morrison’s career has stalled since he was earmarked for greatness, fellow United academy graduate Pogba is now the world’s costliest player having moved back to Old Trafford from Juventus last summer for a jaw-dropping £89million.
Joyce, though, does not shy away from making continued comparisons.
“I’ve spoken about Ravel in the same breath as someone who has just broken the world transfer record,” he recognised.
“But if you spoke to Pogba, and asked him about the best players he’s ever played with, Ravel Morrison would be up there.
“Some of the things he could do with a ball is phenomenal really.
“The balance he has, the way he glided past players, that’s X Factor stuff, that no coach in the world can claim to have given him. If they’re saying that, they’re deluded really, because that’s just raw talent.”
While most budding footballers fail to make the grade because of a shortfall in ability, Joyce admits Morrison’s problems at United were largely down to off-field issues rather than problems he encountered on it.
“I’ve got my own views on that, which I pretty much know that I’m right, but I will keep them to myself,” Joyce assessed.
“I’ve got a massive thing about outside influences, agents included, not giving him the right guidance...giving him guidance for their own needs and ends, to get money out of him.
“There’d been a consistency from the people at Manchester United all the way through, from the manager down to the staff, where we were just trying to help him, as opposed to personal gains.
“All we’re trying to do now is help him to get his career back on track.
“As well as fitness, he’s got to show he’s got the drive and the desire to come into this situation.
“Having said that, you can have all those things, but if you haven’t got the fitness then it’s no good at all.
“I’ve still got the drive and the desire to be able to compete, but I’ve not got the fitness.
“That’s the No.1 thing you need, and he’s got to do that. But it’s also got to be on a timescale that helps us in the here and now.
“That’s the big thing for me really, it’s got to be usable.
“It’s not about potential, it’s not about being here at the training ground and working on him for four months to get him right.
“That would be frustrating for him as well as us.”