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The Portuguese coach is keen to keep hold of his star player, and has urged him to remain in "the best league in the world" in order to aid his development at the top level

By Greg Stobart at Hotspur Way

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has called on Gareth Bale to shun a move to Spain and continue his playing career in England.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger stated earlier on Friday that the Welsh winger should stay in the Premier League amid interest from Spanish giants Real Madrid, and the Portuguese coach is in full agreement with the Frenchman ahead of Sunday's north London derby.

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"He's extremely respectful," said Villas-Boas. "We have the best league in the world, in my opinion. The best clubs are continuing to attract the best players.

"For a player to develop to his full potential, it can be done perfectly in this league. I think Gareth has that in mind, not only regarding Spurs but regarding this league too.

"We don't want Gareth to go by any circumstances. I have told you in the past that our chairman is very, very difficult to deal with. We will try to hold on to our assets. We believe that we have to hold on to the best players in order to achieve our objectives.

"He's proved is quality in different fixtures against different opposition, European included. He's going to be a major threat in the game. You can't allow him any kind of space. He can turn up in different places, unsettles opponents with his pace, his power his technique. Hopefully we can see him continue on this level of form and can continue to be decisive."

Bale's sparkling form has seen the 23-year-old score 19 goals for Spurs this season including eight goals in his last six club appearances.

The former Southampton man is a leading contender for the PFA player of the year award this season and his recent performances have even been compared to Spain-based duo Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who are overwhelming considered the two best players in the world.

"Comparisons are going all over the place," Villas-Boas added. "The level of form of the player is that people recognise he is world class. And those two players [Messi and Ronaldo] are world class. Merit is due where it's due, and Gareth at the moment is showing that level of form to be at the level of those two players who have won so much throughout their careers, including European trophies.

"He still has to achieve that and we hope he can achieve it with us. I think he is very down to earth, I find him extremely accessible person, very human so I think he is focused, and the fact that we have seen these performances recently, and constantly, means that the player keeps enjoying his football and that is what we want."

Spurs host Arsenal on Sunday with both teams vying for a top four finish, and while the former Porto boss praised the calibre of the rivalry, he played down the importance of this particular clash.

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"It’s a very special fixture," he continued. "I think it’s up there with Manchester United against Liverpool in terms of rivalry.

"I think we are on a good run of form and extremely confident. It’s not going to be decided on whatever happens this weekend. Seven points' difference if we win is still recoverable for a team like Arsenal, as we saw last season. It's all very tight together still.

"Last weekend we managed to build a distance to Everton of nine points. We just have to keep on going after this result. Obviously we know the importance of this fixture and how it can impact on both clubs moving forward.

"For the fans it would be tremendous [to finish above Arsenal]. The rivalry is something very special, there is a demand from everybody to achieve success in this fixture. There’s certainly some pressure on this fixture and this result, it means a lot in north London.

"Only at the end of the season are we able to see [if there has been a power shift]. Even then, it won't be just next season that determines that, it needs to be over a period of time."

And Villas-Boas confirmed that Jermain Defoe could be fit in time for the derby, though Younes Kaboul will miss out.

"Jermain trained with the team these last two days so hopefully he is going to be available for selection. Tomorrow he trains again, so he’s in contention," he added.

"I think we are looking at two more weeks [for Kaboul]. There hasn't been a setback but his reintroduction has taken more time. Every time he feels pain in his knee."

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