Bale pledges future to Spurs
Gareth Bale has assured Tottenham Hotspur fans he has no intention of quitting the club and promised them even better performances than his stunning one-man assault on Inter Milan.
Spurs' determination to hang onto their prize asset will be almost certainly tested when the transfer window reopens, especially after Inter president Massimo Moratti confirmed his interest in the 21-year-old sensation following last night's UEFA Champions League match at the San Siro.
But Bale believes there is no better place than White Hart Lane for him to continue improving, crediting manager Harry Redknapp for his transformation from club jinx to hat-trick hero in just two years.
Bale's early Tottenham career saw him play a record 24 Premier League matches without being on the winning side. But Redknapp's decision to move the Wales star from left-back to left wing has made him one of the most sought-after young players around. Spurs rebuffed an approach for Bale during the last transfer window and it would be no surprise to see an avalanche of mega-money bids in January.
Bale is refusing to contemplate plying his trade anywhere but White Hart Lane, saying in the Evening Standard: "I don't read into anything said about me. I am just happy playing week in, week out for Tottenham and learning my football here. I am happy and I want to keep playing.
"I don't take any interest in what is written about me because I think it's best to keep your feet on the ground, go to training and learn and also learn in the games every week. Hopefully, there is still a lot more to come from me. I am still young and still learning and I want to keep getting better and better. That's all I want to do.
"The manager has given me the chance to play and I am grateful for that. In training, we have worked on things and more things are coming into my game. I just want to keep playing every week because that is the most important thing - that's when you learn the most. He has given me the confidence and belief to go out there and express myself and that is the best thing a manager can do."
Spurs have refused to confirm the identity of the club who made an approach for Bale in the summer, but Moratti left no doubt of Inter's interest after watching the winger's incredible treble last night.
He said: "We have followed him in the past; you can see why. Now? After those three goals, he will cost a lot more."
Bale's team-mate Jermaine Jenas was full of praise for his fellow midfielder and the way he has put behind him his winless start to life at Spurs. "Around the time, talk about that statistic affected him a bit," Jenas said. "After a couple of years of criticism from the press about not winning games with the team, you can't find words big enough to explain how he has come out of it like he has."
Bale's second-half exploits last night could not mask Spurs' defensive problems, with their calamitous start against the European champions seeing them 3-0 and a man down after just 14 minutes, and four goals behind at half-time. Inter's rampant display appeared to support claims the holders are playing a more attacking brand of football under new coach Rafael Benitez than they did in winning the treble under Jose Mourinho last season.
Yet, Redknapp has questioned their chances of retaining the Champions League with Benitez at the helm, saying: "Last year, at the start of the season, I said that Inter Milan would win the Champions League, for one reason. Mourinho - whatever you think - he's an amazing coach.
"This year, I think maybe Real Madrid will win the Champions League. Rafa Benitez is also a top manager. But Mourinho is one of the very, very best in our business. I'm sure Rafa will do a great job here but to follow Mourinho is not easy for anybody."