Bale could be Wales' Messi, says manager Coleman

The Dragons' poor form last year has left their World Cup 2014 hopes in tatters, but their coach thinks the Tottenham winger could adopt a similar role to the Barcelona star
Tottenham winger Gareth Bale could become Wales' answer to Lionel Messi according to national manager Chris Coleman, as he ponders whether to move the Premier League star into a more central position in the future.

The 23-year-old has been in scintillating form for Andre Villas-Boas' side to guide them to fourth spot in the league, and may feature in the middle for Spurs more often with Jermain Defoe out of contention for possibly the next two months and Emmanuel Adebayor struggling for form.

33/1 Gareth Bale is 33/1 to score a hat-trick against Austria with Coral
And while the Dragons boss will not play Bale up front against Austria in Wednesday evening's friendly, he believes the left winger could become a key figure in the Welsh front line in future.

"Gareth will not start up front against Austria, but it is something I'm actively considering for the future," he told reporters.

"You have to score goals to win matches and it's a role he could perform, without any shadow of a doubt.

"He could even perform the role of a false nine, so to speak, the system Spain have used, and Barcelona also play that way from time to time with Lionel Messi.

"Could I see Gareth doing that for us, too? Yes I could."

Bale has 13 goals in 28 total games this season for Spurs, including 11 in 21 league appearances as Villas-Boas' side sit in the Champions League qualifying places.

He is also the only player to have scored for Wales since Coleman took over, netting in the 6-1 drubbing by Serbia and also scoring two vital goals in the 2-1 qualifying win over Scotland.