Tottenham Hotspur's man of the moment Gareth Bale is flattered by comparisons with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but says he is determined to forge his own identity in the game.
The 23-year-old has been in scintillating form in recent weeks, scoring eight times in six games as Spurs have climbed to third place in the Premier League and reached the last 16 in the UEFA Europa League.
The Welshman's goals have taken his tally for the season to a career-high 19 and prompted comparisons with Real Madrid star Ronaldo, whose pace, power and free-kick prowess are echoed in Bale's own style of play. British media pundits have started to ask whether Bale could stand comparison with Ronaldo and his Barcelona rival Messi, but the man at the centre of the fuss says he tries to ignore the hype.
"I think anybody would love to be mentioned alongside the best in the world," Bale told Sport magazine. "It's flattering, but I don't really look too much into it.
"I don't get the newspapers or read too many reports, so I don't really know how much hype there is. Obviously my friends tell me things, but I just treat every day as normal and focus on my job.
"I don't model my game on Ronaldo's. I have my own way of playing and it's not exactly the same, but we do have similar attributes.
"I just like watching the best players, seeing Messi and Ronaldo. I've watched Ronaldo in the past and you do take things from other people's games to try to improve as a player, which I have hopefully."
Bale enjoying AVB style
Bale also paid tribute to Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas for adding a new dimension to his game since succeeding Harry Redknapp at White Hart Lane.
"Harry was more, 'Go out there and play how you feel and express yourself'," Bale said. "With Andre, there's a certain shape and a style we play. I think Harry was more free and let you do what you want. Andre does that too, but there's a lot more tactical work.
"I think it's something that's good to learn. We've done well this year and I think that's down to our defending as well as attacking."
Tottenham host Arsenal on Sunday, bidding for a victory that would give them a seven-point lead over their north London rivals in the Premier League.