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EXCLUSIVE: Redknapp on Bale

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Gareth Bale is still among the best five players in world football despite his recent dip in form, according to former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp.

Real Madrid forward Bale joined the club in a world-record £86 million move from Spurs in 2013, and garnered instant acclaim for a superb first season, which saw him score crucial goals in both the Copa del Rey and Champions League finals.

His dream move to Spain has threatened to turn sour in recent months, however, with the Bernabeu crowd taking to whistling the 25-year-old following a series of below-par performances.

Bale again struggled as Real were knocked out of the Champions League by Juventus on Wednesday, but Redknapp, who oversaw Bale’s transition from diminutive left-back to fearsome left winger at White Hart Lane, insists that his former charge is a “fantastic talent.”.

Indeed, with Manchester United keen to sign the Wales international , Redknapp, speaking exclusively to Goal, believes Bale would be the star in any Premier League team.

“He had a fantastic season last year for Real Madrid and some of the goals he scored, I’ve never seen anything like it, they were incredible. He’s a fantastic player. For me, he is in the top five players in the world still,” he told Goal.

“Everybody would love him. Manchester United would love him, I’m sure. He’d walk into any team in England, there’s not a team in England he wouldn’t walk into and be the star player.

“He’s a fantastic player. If he was in England, for me, he’d be the best player in the Premier League.. He was, he still would be, if he came back, I still think he would be the best player in the league again. He’s a fantastic talent.”

Speculation remains rife over Bale’s future but Goal understands that the Welshman is determined to make a success of his move to the Spanish capital .

Redknapp has sympathy for his current plight, but is sure that Bale – described as a “great lad” – can win over his doubters.

“I’d like to see him stay there,” he replied when asked if Bale should seek an exit.

“Last year he had a great first season at Real Madrid, this year it’s been more difficult for him but I’d like to see him fight his way through it and show everybody what he can do because he’s an amazing player.

“He’s got everything, he’s got absolutely everything, he’s got pace, he’s got strength, he can dribble, he can shoot, he can head it. There’s nothing he can’t do, he’s a good boy.

“As soon as you have a bit of a bad time people want to jump on your case, he’s a great talent in my opinion.”

Bale joined Spurs in 2007 and after suffering injuries struggled to nail down a place in the starting XI, also going 24 appearances for the club without being on the winning side.

Redknapp, though, brought an end to that run when he fielded Bale as an 84th minute substitute in a 5-0 win over Burnley in 2009, and subsequently made him his No.1 left-back ahead of Benoit Assou-Ekotto.

Bale wasted no time in repaying Redknapp’s faith, and became a key part of the starting XI as the club surged into the Champions League, and he caught the attention of the world with a brilliant hat-trick against Inter Milan at the San Siro in 2010.

Redknapp insists he never doubted Bale’s ability, and says he tipped him for stardom before taking the reins at White Hart Lane.

“I had no doubts,” he added. “Someone said I was going to loan him out to Nottingham Forest or somebody; absolute nonsense. Never, ever were we going to loan him out at Tottenham.

“I watched him play before I went to Tottenham, to be fair, one day at Fulham, and I thought he was fantastic that day, he played left-back. He could have been the best left-back in the world or the best left winger in the world, in my opinion.

“Even when I was there, we played at Benfica one day, and he played left-back and it was the best performance I’d seen in years, I’d never seen anything like it. Incredible. He plays left wing, he can play right wing, he can play off the middle, where he plays for Wales, they play him up front, he’s got everything.

“He’s an amazing talent and he’s a great player. It’s a shame he’s not English, it’s a shame he’s not playing for England, I wish he was English. The Welsh don’t but he could make the difference to the England team, that’s for sure!”



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