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Martin O'Neill Once Said Ashley Young Was On Par With Lionel Messi And Cristiano Ronaldo

Martin O'Neill Once Said Ashley Young Was On Par With Lionel Messi And Cristiano Ronaldo

Martin O'Neill once made a bold claim about Ashley Young after he said that he was on par with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 33-year-old Manchester United player was heavily criticised in the Red Devils' 1-0 defeat to Barcelona on Wednesday night, but the Nottingham Forest manager once tipped him to become one of Europe's biggest stars.

O'Neill managed Young during their time together at Aston Villa and claimed back in 2008 that he was one of the top five wingers in Europe.

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Oh, but he wasn't done there.

The Daily Telegraph reports that when the former Aston Villa and Sunderland head coach was asked if Young was in the same bracket as Messi and Ronaldo, he made his feelings perfectly clear in his response: "Yes. In my opinion."

He added: "I see a lot of games in Europe, I watch a lot of football and you see a lot of players in the game who are very functional.

"Some are decent, some are more than decent and some are very, very good. And then you have the players who are absolutely exceptional. And Ashley Young is absolutely exceptional."

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Credit: PA
Credit: PA

O'Neill wasn't done there with his praise, mainly for how he said that the former Watford and Aston Villa player could reach bigger heights going forward.

"I think the speed of his improvement has surprised a lot of people," he explained.

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"He has developed enormously in the two seasons. I think he has surpassed expectations. He has far from reached his peak.

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"If you look at other top quality players, players aged 22 to 23, who are absolutely brilliant -- people like Messi and Ronaldo -- you ask 'how can they improve?'

"They just do. They just get better. They see the game differently than they might have done three years earlier."

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Well, Young has had success since his Villa days during his time at Old Trafford, making 175 appearances for the club and winning multiple honours that included the Premier League title, the FA Cup, the EFL Cup and the Europa League.

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After his performance against Barcelona at Old Trafford, though, there were many United fans that felt his time at the club should come to an end soon.

Should United sell Young in the summer?

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Let us know in the comments.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Football News, Aston Villa, Football, Manchester United, Barcelona, Lionel Messi, Ashley Young, Cristiano Ronaldo

Adnan Riaz

Adnan Riaz is a journalist for SPORTbible. He studied for a B.A. in History at the University of York and followed it up with an M.A. in Multimedia Journalism at MMU. Before he started writing about sports, he spent over four years in the gaming press. He has worked for several publications, including Hardcore Gamer, LADbible and the Manchester Evening News. Follow him on Twitter to find out what he is working on next. Got a story tip for Adnan? Email him: [email protected]