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The defender says Spurs must keep their star man if they want to become Champions League regulars, and also branded him a "hero" for the way he would score goals at vital times

EXCLUSIVE
By Greg Stobart

Tottenham defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto has urged the club to keep Gareth Bale if they "want to have a future" but understands why the attacker would be tempted by a summer move to Real Madrid.

The Spanish giants are huge admirers of Bale and are reportedly ready to make the 23-old-year the most expensive player in history with an €98 million bid this summer.

Spurs are adamant Bale will not be sold this summer and still hope to persuade their star man to sign a new contract at White Hart Lane to increase his salary to more than €150,000-a-week.

"If Tottenham want to have a future and start to be regular in the top four, Tottenham need to keep him," Assou-Ekotto told Goal.

"I can understand [why he might want to leave]. Real Madrid are not a small club and people know that even if they support Tottenham at 200 per cent."

Bale scored 31 goals in all competitions last season and was named PFA player of the year for the second time following a scintillating campaign marked by stunning individual goals.

Andre Villas-Boas' side missed out on qualification for the Champions League by a single point and Assou-Ekotto admits the team would rely on "hero" Bale to come up with crucial goals at key moments.

"It's good to play with him because sometimes this season we didn't have the solution to win and he saved us many times," added Assou-Ekotto.

"He was like a hero and it was cool because sometimes we would say 'Oh how will we win this game?' and we gave the ball to Gareth, for example on free-kicks like against Lyon. He was very important for us."

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