- Premier League
Villas-Boas plays down Bale Old Trafford trip
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has insisted he 'had no problem' with Gareth Bale attending Tuesday night's Champions League game between Manchester United and Real Madrid, even though it has fuelled speculation the Welsh winger is eyeing up a move to one of the clubs.
Bale looked on as Real Madrid ended United's European dreams in contentious fashion after the much-discussed red card handed out to Nani, with Villas-Boas stressing the presence of his star man at the Theatre of Dreams does not add weight to their theory that he would relish a switch to Manchester or Madrid.
"It was a great game of football and I have no problem [with Gareth going to it]," stated Villas-Boas, who was then asked whether Spurs fans should worry about Bale's interest in a Manchester United game. "No, no," he insisted. "We spoke about it this morning. We knew he was going."
Villas-Boas went on to suggest Tottenham are putting in place an infrastructure that will allow them to compete with the best teams in Europe, but he accepted the challenge of rising to the very top of the game will take decades rather than years as he fielded questions surrounding the rumours linking Bale to Europe's elite.
"Hopefully the steps that we are talking towards the future are making it more smooth and taking it towards a top European side," he continued. "Obviously the growth of a club is dependent on the number of trophies you can win and the prestige of the club.
"That comes by Tottenham winning titles in the future and hopefully we can deliver that. For us to get to the levels of the top, top clubs, it is a different proposition. You can only say Tottenham will be there in the next 20 or 30 years and by then, Gareth will have finished his career.
"I believe he can achieve what he wants here for sure. We are working to get to this level and Gareth can help us get there."
Bale will get his own chance to light up a European stage as in-form Spurs welcome Inter Milan to White Hart Lane for a Europa League last-16 tie on Thursday night, with the Italian opposition coming to London eager to avoid a repeat of the last occasion they ran into Tottenham's Welsh flier.
It was a somewhat raw and inconsistent Bale who shot to prominence with two sparkling performances against Inter in the Champions League back in 2010, with Villas-Boas suggesting the player the Nerazzurri will face now is more complete.
"A lot of things have changed at Spurs and Inter Milan since then," said Villas-Boas. "Gareth has evolved as a player. He is even more threatening now and I'm sure Inter Milan are aware of his strengths."
Villas-Boas went on to hail Inter as the best team left in this season's Europa League, as he predicted a high level battle against a club where he was an employee under Jose Mourinho before he embarked on his own management career.
"We have to be very cautious about Inter Milan," he added. "They have been European champions very recently and they are going through a tremendous reshuffle of their squad, which they have done properly and invested in young players.
"Still they are continuing to challenge for titles like they used to so this is why I see in the last-16 [of the Europa League], Inter Milan represent the best of the best. This gives us another chance to play at a level of a Champions League tie, like we had against Lyon in the last round.
"We are aware that nothing is going to be decided in this first leg. We need to take it to the second leg and hopefully with an advantage that enables us to go through."