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'Gareth Bale could play on either Barcelona or Real Madrid' - Wales manager Chris Coleman

'Gareth Bale could play on either Barcelona or Real Madrid' - Wales manager Chris Coleman

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Examining his chances of leading Wales into the 2014 World Cup, Coleman believes Bale is an elite player and talks about the impact of Gary Speed's death on Welsh football.

HOBOKEN, N.J. -- As Chris Coleman attempts to lead Wales into the 2014 World Cup, the manager is happy that the team has a solid young nucleus headlined by Gareth Bale.

The Tottenham left midfielder continues to captivate audiences all over the world with his stellar play in the Premier League and Coleman believes Bale could start on any team in the world including Barcelona and Real Madrid.

"Harry Redknapp won't like me saying this but in my opinion absolutely, he could play for either Barcelona or Real Madrid. Any club," Coleman told


Bale won the Premier League Players' Player of the Year award last season and despite struggling with injuries this year, all of the top clubs in Europe are interested in Welshman.  Coleman is impressed with Bale's development and is quick to remind everyone that he still has plenty of potential.

"One thing that people forget about Gareth is that he's only 22," Coleman explained. "He's a machine. He's 6-2, unbelievably quick left foot. One of the best, if not the best, left sided attackers on the planet."

He added, " He's incredibly aggressive offensively. When he picks the ball up he can pick 50 to 60 meters within seconds and go past three or four players. He can quickly turn a defensive situation into an offensive situation with in a blink of an eye because he's so quick and strong."

While Coleman wouldn't put Bale into the level of a Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, the 41-year-old believes the former Southampton prodigy is a notch below with the game's elite stars.

"Messi and Ronaldo, they aren't from this planet, they are from another world," Coleman stated. "They are out there by themselves but behind those two players are another group of players who are fantastic. Gareth Bale will fit into that group for me."

Coleman and the Wales national team will be in New Jersey to face Mexico on a friendly on May 27. The former Fulham boss is currently in New York area to evaluate the New Meadowlands prior to the friendly.  He has praised the stadium which is primarily used by the New York Jets and Giants as a world class and says it has a atmosphere even without fans in stands.

Entering his third month as a replacement for Gary Speed, who tragically ended his life on Nov. 27, 2011. Coleman admits that the transition for himself and the Wales Football Association hasn't been easy. Coleman and Speed were good friends and sometimes when he mentions  his departed colleague, there are times when he'll take a few seconds before continuing his thought.

"It was always my ambition to coach my country. Obviously with the circumstances of Gary's death, it was difficult situation," Coleman says before taking a two-second pause. "I'm very honored and privileged to do the job but there's a sense of not necessarily disappointment but grief, he was one of my friends."

"The whole situation was surreal, really."

Coleman has coached one game for Wales, a memorial match dedicated to Speed against Costa Rica last month. His side won 1-0. Coleman was pleased with the strong turnout and showing of support but wishes he never had to coach in "that" game.

"It was a strange situation to be involved with because none of us should be there," he said. "You don't know how to deal with it because it's new territory. "

With Wales' national team facing adversity after Speed's death,  Coleman hopes to develop a bond with his players that could rally the side as it aims for World Cup qualification.  Despite not having the resources of its United Kingdom neighbors in England, Coleman believes that Wales has some players who can turn heads over the next few months and is confident that the Dragons will be playing in Brazil in 2014. That would be Wales first appearance in the World Cup since 1958 where it qualified by default after Israel dropped out of qualification.

"With the Welsh players that we have, I think there is a possibility," he said.

"We have to keep moving forward and trying to progress. Keep trying to win games, that's what he [Speed] would have wanted anyway. "