Martin O'Neill does not think he is well-placed to judge Jack Grealish and his prospects for the future, but he admires his ability.
Jack Grealish possesses the natural talent to play for Manchester United or any big club, according to former Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill.
Midfielder Grealish has long been linked with a move to Old Trafford, with Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said to have identified him as a prime target to bolster his midfield.
With clubs facing uncertainty over the coming months due to the coronavirus crisis, it remains unclear whether United or any other side will be prepared to spend significant sums on the likes of Grealish this year.
But while he is cautious of passing judgement on whether Grealish would thrive at a major club, O'Neill certainly thinks the 24-year-old has enough ability.
Speaking to Stats Perform News, he said: "On Grealish's future, that's difficult to say. He's a big fans' favourite and Villa is his football club as well.
Are you saying, 'Does he have the ability to play for Manchester United'? Certainly, the natural talent to play for any of the big clubs – there's no question about that.
"I just don't know enough and I'm in no position to make that judgement."
Grealish's future may also depend on whether Villa can avoid relegation from the Premier League this season.
The club have spent in the region of £143million on new signings since winning promotion via the Championship play-offs last term.
Despite the huge investment, Dean Smith's side are 19th in the table and two points from safety, although they have a game in hand on their nearest rivals.
O'Neill, who was in charge at Villa Park from 2006 to 2010, has been surprised to see his old side struggle in the top flight and is concerned they have become too dependent on their captain.
"My own view was that they had a super end to the Championship season, they were the best team in it by a long distance, I felt," he said.
"I honestly thought that they wouldn't have too much difficulty in staying up. They've put some money in, a lot of money in, some people say between 130 and 150 million pounds.
"So, I didn't expect them to struggle at all this season. I expected it to be difficult, but not to struggle.
"I met Jack Grealish a number of years ago when we wanted him to play for the Republic of Ireland and he chose to play with England, no problem with that whatsoever – his father is English and he had played underage football for the Republic of Ireland, he made that decision and that's absolutely fine.
"He's very strong; he's much stronger than he was five years ago, a quality player, hard to rob.
"You would hope that, at the end, Villa would have enough to pull themselves around and see it through. Of course, if you're depending on one player, which they have been over the past couple of months, that can cause a problem."