- Premier League
Zidane: Bale above Messi and Ronaldo
Real Madrid adviser Zinedine Zidane has hailed Tottenham's Gareth Bale as "the best player in Europe" and predicted that not even a price tag as high as £60 million would dissuade the continent's biggest clubs from making a move for the Welshman this summer.
Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have been heavily linked with the newly crowned PFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year, with Spurs' struggle to claim a Champions League spot for next season sparking speculation their talisman will leave the north London club.
Zidane's glowing praise of Bale last month fuelled the belief that his former club Real Madrid are confident of signing the attacking midfielder, and now he has embellished that praise with more plaudits for the 23-year-old.
"After the season he has just had and still being so young, Gareth Bale is going to be one of the most expensive players in the world if he decides to move," Zidane is quoted in several British newspapers.
"Tottenham could command £40 million, £50 million maybe even £60 million for him. It is a lot of money, but there are maybe three or four teams in the world that can pay that sort of transfer fee and it won't put them off.
"A player like Bale can be the difference between a big club winning the league or Champions League. They would be getting the best player in Europe this season and he is at an age where he can still play at the top for another ten years.
"What I like about him is that he has this electric pace, but also a big footballing brain to go with it. That is very rare."
Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas was keen to point out that Zidane's influence at Real Madrid is not huge as he does not hold the sporting director title many suggest he has, and yet these latest words of adulation will do little to dampen the suspicion that Bale is top of the Spanish club's shopping list this summer.
Amid increasing speculation that Cristiano Ronaldo may be set to follow manager Jose Mourinho out of the Bernabeu this summer, Bale appears to be emerging as the superstar signing for a new era at Real Madrid.