ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger feels it is too early to compare Tottenham midfielder Gareth Bale with the best in the world, but admits the Welshman has come a very long way since the raw teenager he scouted at Southampton.
Bale, 23, netted two stunning free kicks as Spurs beat Lyon 2-1 in the Europa League at White Hart Lane on Thursday. He has now scored seven goals in his last five matches for club and country, again leading to comparisons with Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. Bale was on Arsenal’s radar before he joined Tottenham in 2005, with Wenger deciding instead to buy a then 16-year-old Theo Walcott. Wenger – who is preparing his side to take on Blackburn in the FA Cup today – agrees Bale has developed into a player of exceptional quality.
The Arsenal manager said: “Bale has the potential to develop and become the players that you compare him to. However, Messi has won two or three Champions Leagues, a few championships, scored 95 goals in a year, so let’s not go too quick. You are always very quick here, but let’s slow down a little bit.”
Wenger stands by the decisions he made over the Southampton academy duo. “It was Walcott and Bale, and we were at some stage on (about) taking the two if possible, but we could get Walcott and I am very happy we got him,” Wenger said. “If I tell you the number of players we did not sign who we should have signed, you would be amazed, but it is the same for every single club. You miss players.”