Wenger admits 'huge mistake' in passing up chance to sign Bale

The Arsenal manager concedes he regrets spurning the opportunity to buy the Welsh winger as a youngster from Southampton and says he has become an incredible player
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits he made a "huge mistake" in not taking the opportunity to sign Gareth Bale.

Wenger was an admirer of Bale when the Welshman was playing for Southampton as a youngster but Tottenham eventually signed the 23-year-old back in 2007.

Wenger instead took Theo Walcott from St Mary's, and says he was aware of Bale but felt a move to sign him would not have been right at the time - something he now regrets.

"Yes. But we didn't take him because we had Ashley Cole and [Gael] Clichy and we didn't want to add another left back, but I must honestly confess it was a huge mistake," Wenger told Al Jazeera Sport when asked whether he knew of the Welshman when he began his career at Southampton.

"[He's a special player] Because he can play left midfield, but he struggled at the start and at some stage, the noises I heard, Tottenham were ready to sell him.

"But they moved him to left midfield and he did incredibly well."

Bale has since become an integral part of Tottenham's bid for Champions League qualification over the past few seasons, and has been heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid this summer.