Bale can rival Messi - says Welsh mentor Flynn
Published 23:00 22/11/10 By James Nursey
Gareth Bale's Welsh mentor Brian Flynn insists he can be as good as Lionel Messi and predicts an imminent "bombardment" of bids for the Spurs ace.
Barcelona's Argentine superstar Messi, 23, was the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2009.
But it is Cardiff-born Bale's performances in the Champions League for Spurs which have got the whole of Europe drooling over the left-sided star.
He hit a sensational hat-trick as Tottenham lost 4-3 at Inter Milan before inspiring Spurs to victory over the current Champions League holders earlier this month.
Bale, 21, has notched an additional six goals this term to the delight of Wales' U-21 supremo and national side caretaker Flynn, who first coached him as a 15-year-old.
He was on the scoresheet in Spurs' thrilling 3-2 win at fiercest rivals Arsenal at the weekend and is adjusting his sights to Werder Bremen tomorrow.
Flynn, in the race to succeed John Toshack in charge of the Wales senior side permanently, now believes midfielder Bale can rival Messi in the near future.
Flynn said: "I have known Gareth's ability from such a young age in many ways it doesn't surprise me the level he is reaching now.
"If you look at all the ingredients needed to be a top player, he is up there in a lot of the brackets.
"I judge players in three key areas: attitude, intelligence and ability where he excels in them all.
"There are a lot of players who are quick but his left-foot is as good as anyone.
"Comparisons with Messi wouldn't faze him a little bit.
"He wouldn't be worried by that sort of adulation because of his intelligence as he can handle being a big star.
"Time will show. He is 21 years old. Messi is 23 and in two years time we could be saying yes Gareth is at that level."
Flynn says other managers often ask about Bale and believes Spurs will have a number of suitors for his services in January.
"It will be a bombardment I should imagine," added Flynn.
"I certainly know Harry is getting ready for a bombardment in January.
"But Gareth loves the club and really enjoys his football at Tottenham.
"He is playing in the Champions League competing at the highest level.
"He genuinely loves playing for Tottenham and working with Harry.
"At the moment Gareth's is the first name on the team sheet at Tottenham."
Bale's star has rocketed in the last 12 months since a tough start following his £5m move from Southampton to White Hart Lane in May 2007.
The ace has now amassed 27 international caps for Wales after making his debut against Trinidad & Tobago aged 16 years 315 days having been fast-tracked by Flynn.
He recalled: "We had a training camp for the U-17s and Gareth was 15 then.
"He virtually played everywhere - we didn't know what his position was.
"He played at the back, then he slotted into midfield and ended up upfront scoring goals.
"We played Switzerland away about five years ago.
"After the game I always have appraisals and one-to-one assessments to talk about how the boys did in the game and their future.
"I said to Gareth at that time he will be a full international while he is in his teens.
"I don't make that challenge or a statement lightly and I am delighted he met that challenge head on and got even better.
"I know he wants to improve - he is a level-headed lad.
"You can tell things to him tactically and he takes it straight on board."
And Flynn has no sympathy with English fans who wish Bale was playing with Three Lions on his international shirt instead.
Flynn added: "He is Welsh through and through - he only wants to play for Wales."