Paul Scholes feels Manchester United need players with the quality of Eden Hazard or Kevin De Bruyne to make them Premier League title contenders, but added that even Lionel Messi would struggle in the current side.
United made their worst start to a Premier League season, with Jose Mourinho's men taking just 10 points from their opening seven fixtures.
A remarkable comeback victory over Newcastle United prior to the international break could have kick-started United's campaign, but Scholes does not believe they have the ability to mount a title challenge.
And Scholes name-checked Manchester City duo David Silva and De Bruyne, along with Chelsea's Hazard – the league's leading scorer – as the benchmark, but acknowledged there are no guarantees.
"I look at the current squad and I don't think there's a lack of quality there," Scholes, who won 11 Premier League titles at Old Trafford, told ESPN.
"I do think they miss a couple of real class players that other top teams seem to have.
"I'm thinking of a De Bruyne, Hazard or David Silva, a link player between the midfield and the forwards.
"But it feels like every player who comes into the team struggles. I feel like we could sign Lionel Messi at the moment and he'd struggle in this team."
11 - Eden Hazard has had a hand in 11 goals in his last 11 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions (nine goals, two assists). Productive. pic.twitter.com/3U2wDUtKFY— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) 7 October 2018
United brought in Alexis Sanchez to add a creative spark in January, but Scholes claimed he never believed the Chile forward – who scored the winner against Newcastle with his first goal of the season – was capable of filling the void.
"I know he has qualities and has been a good player, but I never saw him as a United player," added Scholes.
"I saw him as a bit selfish, someone who played for himself sometimes.
"I didn't think he was a player that we needed, especially for that type of money. How would we be able to get rid of him now when he earns those wages?
"The signing felt like it happened just to stop Man City signing him."
United head to Stamford Bridge on Saturday before hosting Juventus in the Champions League.
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