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The Arsenal manager believes the Tottenham winger still has a way to go to reach the level of the Real Madrid star

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has played down the recent hype surrounding in-form Tottenham star Gareth Bale.

The Welshman scored two stunning free kicks to inspire Spurs to a 2-1 Europa League victory over Lyon on Thursday, taking his goal tally for club and country this season to 21.

Asked about comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, Wenger told reporters: "I wouldn't go as far as that. He has the potential to develop and become like the players that you compare him to.

"But Ronaldo and Messi, Messi has won two or three Champions League, a few championships, scored 95 goals in a year.

"Let's not go too quick. You are always very quick [to build someone up], but let's slow down a little bit."

Bale started his career at Southampton before moving to Tottenham in 2007 having become the second youngest player to ever play for the Saints when he featured in a victory over Milwall the previous year.

And whilst current Arsenal winger Theo Walcott - who is the only player to surpass his record by virtue of 132 days - departed from St Mary's Stadium to join the Gunners in 2006, Wenger admitted a deal to sign the two players at the same time was something the club had considered.

He continued: "It was Walcott and Bale [at Southampton] and we were at some stage [considering] taking the two if possible.

"We could get Walcott and I am very happy we got him. If I tell you the number of players we did not sign who we should have signed, you would be amazed. But it is the same for every single club, you miss players."

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