Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes insists James Maddison has all the qualities needed to play for a club the stature of Manchester United.
The Leicester City attacker, who spent the first half of the 2016-17 season on loan at the Dons from Norwich City, joined the Foxes in 2018 for a reported £20 million and has impressed in the Premier League under Brendan Rodgers.
His displays have led to the 23 year-old being linked with a move to Old Trafford when the transfer window reopens and McInnes is not surprised to see the former Don attracting admirers.
He said: “I always thought James was the best technician of a ball I’ve seen.
“I haven’t seen someone who manipulates the ball in the way he can and that potential is really being realised now.
“James has said that coming to Aberdeen has helped be the making of him because he had to grow up a bit, he had to tough things out and he had to learn how to deal with the demands of playing here.
“He was developing then and the games up here were tough for him.
“You can’t say that you watched him and thought he would go from playing with us, back to Norwich, on to Leicester and then potentially to a club like Manchester United so quickly.
“But you see him now, he has developed so much that I think he could play for any of the big clubs in England. That’s how good he is.
“The improvement in him over the last two seasons especially has been massive and it shows what can be done.”
Maddison cemented his place as a cult hero of the Dons support with a stunning last minute free kick winner against Rangers at Pittodrie during his brief spell in Scotland.
He starred in a side featuring talented team-mates such as Jonny Hayes, Graeme Shinnie, Kenny McLean and Ryan Jack, and McInnes feels a sense of pride in seeing the players continue to impress at their current clubs.
He said: “The frustration is always that you wonder what sort of team you could have had if you’d kept the players together.
“But there has to be a reality there and with that comes a sense of pride that we have helped the Kenny McLean’s, the Shinnies, Jonny Hayes and those lads get their moves.
“When you see boys going away and performing, showing their confidence and fulfilling that potential you knew they had, the whole club should take pride from that.
“They all had a real desire to do well, that burning ambition inside them and the work ethic you need to make it happen for you.”