Bale hints at Tottenham summer stay

The Wales international has strongly hinted he will stay at White Hart Lane at the end of the season, praising the progress the club has made and the plans afoot in north London
Tottenham forward Gareth Bale is prepared to stay at the club, even if they miss out on Champions League qualification this season.

The 23-year-old is expected to be offered a new four-year deal in the summer, and there is hope at White Hart Lane that he will extend even if Andre Villas-Boas' side finish outside the top four.

Bale told The Guardian: "We set our agenda at the start of the season to qualify for the Champions League. We want to finish in the top four and it will feel like a disappointment if we don't get there.

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"The club has grown every year and I've become a better player every year. We've had a taste of Champions League football and that's where we want to be again. That's where the club needs to be to get to the next level. That's what we're trying to do this season to lift the club to better things.

"I want to play at the highest level possible and be playing against the best teams in the world. I think the club is going in the right direction. All our objectives are the same, we just have to try to achieve them now."

Villas-Boas has moved Bale into a central role this season, leading to a return of 25 goals in all competitions, but the Wales international praised the team, saying that it is the best squad he has been a part of.

He continued: "We're all working well as a team. We're all working together. The club is going in the right direction, bringing in better players every season.

"The likes of Mousa [Dembélé] and Jan [Vertonghen] have been fantastic additions to the squad and I'm sure we'll bring in a few more players into the squad again this summer. It's just a matter of progressing for everyone and reaching our targets.

"We're all of a similar age. We're all around our mid-20s. We've been playing together for three, four, five years. We've got a good firm English base there as well, which is always important for a club like Tottenham. We're heading in the right direction and hopefully there is still a lot more to come from the team."

Bale is comfortable in his new role, and is delighted that Villas-Boas has given him more responsibility this season.

"When you're younger, you're quite daunted by the manager," he added. "As I've got older, I've also got a lot closer and become a more important player so you speak to the manager more.

"This year I've been handed a lot more responsibility, which has been great. I believe I've been able to motivate myself and make myself a better player by it."

Bale still feels there is room for improvement though, despite an award-winning season and added when asked to specify: "Score more goals. More with my right, more with my left.

"I think you just have to keep going, keep plugging away. Even your best players – if you look at Lionel Messi, [each year] he scores more goals than he has any other year. Cristiano Ronaldo is the same. There is still plenty more to improve. I just have to keep my focus at this level and take it further."