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Milan must keep Donnarumma

AC Milan

O'Neill understands Milner and Young interest

Martin O'Neill says reports linking James Milner and Ashley Young with the likes of Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid are understandable. Aston Villa reached the final of the Carling Cup and semi-final of the FA Cup this season and, while they now look certain to miss out on fourth place, it has been another solid season for the club.

Milner and Young have arguably been Villa's best performers of the campaign and, following reports that a number of Europe's top clubs are considering summer bids, O'Neill has said he believes they would be good enough to play for the elite.

"I wouldn't be surprised that James Milner and Ashley Young have attracted attention from the very best clubs here and abroad," he said in the Daily Mail. "I rate them that highly and they have shown maturity on the field and off it.

"Milner's performance against Everton was extraordinary. I'm delighted for him. He's down as one of the four young players of the year.

"Assuming that Wayne Rooney doesn't win both - and deserves the main accolade - then I think that James would be deserving of the young player. He has been that brilliant.

"Milner has been a revelation. He has stepped infield 20 yards and just been fantastic. He has the energy, the determination and, more importantly, he has the ability. He's in the centre of that midfield and looks like he's played there since he was 16."

While O'Neill is confident that the players would be successful with other teams, he is eager to keep both players at Villa Park and has warned that life may not be better at clubs like United.

"I think both of them would grace any side, but they might be forced into a more rotational system - and just at this minute that would be a consideration for them," he said. "Most players want to play every single week.

"We haven't had the luxury. I went up to watch Manchester United at Wigan and it was eye-opening looking at the Manchester United players sitting in front of me, not even on the subs' bench.

"I'd like them to stay here and see if we can break into that bracket."


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