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The Portuguese coach applauded the 23-year-old winger's display in the 4-0 win over Aston Villa, insisting that most clubs in Europe could not afford him on this form

Andre Villas-Boas has lavished praise on Tottenham winger Gareth Bale, after his man-of-the-match display in Spurs' 4-0 win at Aston Villa on Wednesday evening - but warned Europe's elite clubs that they cannot afford him ahead of the January transfer window.

The Welshman netted a second-half hat-trick – his first in the Premier League – to take his tally for the season to nine, as Spurs moved back into fourth place on goal difference.

Goal.com exclusively revealed in October that Bale is ready to tell Tottenham that he wants to move to Real Madrid, yet Villa-Boas remained defiant with his post-match comments as he lauded the 23-year-old.

“Gareth is up there with the best,” he told reporters.

“He is helping the team and we recognise he is one of our major assets for sure.

“But in England there are no release clauses and a player of this dimension has a market value that is not attainable for most other clubs.

“It was an important day for him with his first hat-trick in the Premier League. He has shown tremendous skills and talent.

“He is improving every day as such a young player and has a wonderful personality. As he learns to feel even better in this team then probably his performances will improve.

“His finishing is very accurate and he has been prolific in front of goal. He is enjoying getting into those positions - his left foot is wonderful.”

And Villas-Boas pointed to Aston Villa's change in approach in the second half as the turning point in his side's victory.

“We had an excellent first half and truly deserved to win. They came out against us more in the second half which gave us space to exploit,” he added.

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