Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has expressed concerns that Premier League debutants Bastian Schweinsteiger and Matteo Darmian could struggle in their first campaign in English football.
Angel di Maria joined for a British record £59.7m ($99.2m) in the summer of 2014 but failed to make sufficient impact in his first season at United, and Van Gaal admits he is worried the new duo could go the same way – though he has no concerns over fellow recruit Morgan Schneiderlin.
"Morgan can cope with the Premier League," Van Gaal said, according to Sky Sports. "The question mark is with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Matteo Darmian, because they have to prove it.
"That is the difference. There is a big difference between all the leagues and I have trained in them all, so I can judge that.
"But I am fully confident that Bastian and Matteo can cope with the rhythm of the Premier League."
After returning to the Champions League following a fourth-place finish in the Premier League, United boss Van Gaal will be eyeing a tilt at the title in his second campaign at Old Trafford.
But despite making a flurry of new signings, including Memphis Depay from PSV Eindhoven, Van Gaal has made no guarantees over their role this term.
"Every player who is sitting here can make that contribution but they know already they have to fight for their position," he added.
"Never in top sport is it secure. No position is secure. Even my position is not secure, as you know.
"Morgan Schneiderlin has to fight with Michael Carrick, Schweinsteiger and Daley Blind. These are the players who can play in the centre of midfield. Matteo Darmian has to fight with [Antonio] Valencia."