By Tom J Doyle
Former Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins describes Gareth Bale as currently "unplayable" but believes that the Tottenham star must stay at this level for three or four years to be compared to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
The Spurs winger has scored eight goals in his last six games, with a number of outstanding strikes leading to comparisons with the world's best players as he guides Andre Villas-Boas' side towards Champions League qualification.
Although Wilkins is in awe of the 23-year-old's recent performances, he argues that Bale has to maintain his sensational run for seasons to come in order to be considered one of the world's best players - starting against Arsenal on Sunday.
|22/1||Gareth Bale is 22/1 with Bet365 to score a hat-trick in the north London derby
"He can do anything he wants on the football field - that's a player playing at the top of his confidence and the top of his creative ability, and long may it continue.
"But when the slump comes - and don't be surprised, because it will - it's just a case of keeping [his form] going as long as it can. He will have to put in a performance which isn't genius but it's good. That level is what all players have to try and attain and Bale's exactly the same.
"He has set the bar and he has to reach those levels season-in, season-out now - that's the level he is at. A sign of greatness is when you can stay at that level like Ronaldo, [Paul] Scholes, Messi - they stay at that level, they don't drift away from it. He now has to maintain this form over the next three or four years."
Bale was awarded the PFA Players' Player of the Year for 2010-11 and has attracted interest from Real Madrid and Barcelona but Wilkins expects the Welshman to stay at White Hart Lane as long as Champions League football is on offer.
"It's all about playing at the highest level and Gareth's performances are geared towards playing Champions League football," he added. "He'll want to play Champions League football and I think Tottenham will give him that this year."
Ray Wilkins is supporting the FA Community Awards, presented by McDonald’s, which recognise the importance of grassroots football and reward the hard work of those involved. This weekend Ray visited Carshalton Athletic to coach the 2012 winners of the National FA Charter Standard Community Club category. Nominations for the 2013 awards are now open across the whole of the UK and to nominate your grassroots heroes go to mcdonalds.co.uk/awards
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