Ronny Deila bizarrely compares wantaway Celtic ace James Forrest to Lionel Messi

Messi Close Up

Ronny Deila has explained why James Forrest reminds him of Barcelona's Lionel Messi.

Celtic manager Ronny Deila has told The Telegraph that winger James Forrest reminds him of Lionel Messi when he dribbles with the ball.

Forrest, 24, joined Celtic way back in 2003, and has gradually made his way up through the ranks at Celtic Park, becoming a first-team player after his debut in 2010.

The winger has notched 30 goals and 27 assists for Celtic in more than 180 games, but his future appears to lie away from Celtic Park.

Manager Deila told the Glasgow Evening Times earlier this week that Forrest has rejected a new contract to stay with the club, and Celtic may now look to cash in on the Scotland international before his contract expires in December.

However, manager Deila doesn't seem like he wants to lose Forrest without a fight just yet, as he has made some remarkable comments to The Telegraph.

Deila claims that when Forrest has the ball at his feet and is running at defenders, he is like Barcelona superstar and arguably the best player in the world, Lionel Messi.

The Norwegian suggested that Forrest needs to do more, but to even mention him in the same breath as Messi is quite something - and it's certainly one way to try and convince him to stay!

"When he carries the ball he is like Messi," said Deila. "You just feel it is so easy. Everything is good, his balance, everything, but it has to be more effective and it has to be more intense defensively and offensively."

"Then he will reach his full potential. He can still be a fantastic footballer. Everybody sees what he has got, but he has to do it more often in games. When I first came here he was out and in all the time, half-exercises, getting tired feeling, whatever. Now he gets up to speed in everything he does and develops his skills he needs to develop," he added.

Do you want Forrest to stay at Celtic?

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch