Sir Alex Ferguson insists that Tottenham star Luka Modric has the same qualities as veteran midfielder Paul Scholes.
Ferguson is still looking for a long-term replacement for Scholes and Modric was on the Manchester United shortlist of potential recruits over the summer. In the end, Ferguson abandoned the quest, believing the Croatian midfielder was destined for Chelsea.
That deal did not happen though and, on Sunday at White Hart Lane, Modric goes head-to-head with Scholes, who abandoned his decision to retire in January.
''Scholes and Modric are both intelligent footballers,'' said Ferguson. ''They both influence their teams as well so it is a reasonable comparison. I don't think they are identical players but they have the same qualities in terms of controlling a game.
''Their passing consistency is good and the one thing people underestimate about Modric is that he has terrific stamina.''
Little wonder therefore that Ferguson was interested, and Chelsea as well. It was the Blues who thought they had snared their man, only for Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy to refuse Modric's request to leave and resist massive bids for a player he felt was pivotal to their chances of success.
Looking back, Ferguson believes keeping Modric helped shape what has turned into Tottenham's best season for decades.
''The fact they decided to hold onto Modric against what everyone thought was a big Chelsea bid swung the players around,'' said Ferguson. ''That was an indication that they mean business and it has worked because they have had a great season.
''Up until three weeks ago they were playing the best football in the league.''
Ferguson also said he expects Scholes to stay on with the Old Trafford outfit.
Scholes may never reach the staggering statistics of Ryan Giggs, who marked 900 appearances at Norwich last weekend. But the Welshman's continued presence should help to persuade him he can go on as well.
''I haven't discussed Paul's future with him but on the evidence we have seen at the moment there is no reason why he shouldn't (stay another year),'' said Ferguson.
''When I said to him last year you'll give me 25 to 30 games it wasn't enough for him. But I think he may look at it differently now.
''He knew right away when he went coaching with the reserves and took part in the sessions he could hack it. He came to me and said he'd made a mistake. The evidence we are seeing now is he is right. His form has been fantastic.''