Morrison was Fergie's best prospect - Rio

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has revealed Sir Alex Ferguson said Ravel Morrison was the best 14-year-old he had ever seen.

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Manchester-born Morrison came through the ranks at Old Trafford before Ferguson sold him to West Ham United in January 2012 after the 20-year-old had a series of disciplinary problems.

Morrison, who spent last season on loan at Birmingham, has broken into the West Ham side this year and is their five-goal top scorer, as well as becoming a regular for the England U21 team.

Ferdinand, working as a pundit on BT Sport, said: “I would pay to watch him train let alone play in a match. Ever since the first day I saw him, my old boss [Ferguson] said: ‘Have a look at this boy.’

“He was taking the mick out of everyone on the pitch when he was about 14. The manager thought he was the best player he had seen at that age.

“He trained with the first team at about 16 and Darren Fletcher said to me: ‘He runs with the ball, he just runs with it and he’s almost looking at me while he’s running with the ball, and waiting for me to make a move and then he reacts.’

“The top players can do that -- they react to a defender’s movements.”

Mike Phelan, Ferguson's former assistant, last month defended the decision to allow Morrison to leave Old Trafford, but Hammers boss Sam Allardyce said he feared United would try to re-sign the player.