Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists Gareth Bale is no Lionel Messi, but says the Tottenham Hotspur winger has the potential to rival the Barcelona forward in years to come, reports talkSPORT.

The Welsh winger is being hailed as one of the world's very best players, given his scintillating run of form, which has produced 17 goals for Spurs this season - including each of the team's last six in all competitions.

Two more in last night's 2-1 Europa League victory over Lyon at White Hart Lane has given Andre Villas-Boas's side a slender advantage ahead of next week's return leg in France, meaning no other Tottenham player has scored in 392 minutes of football.

Bale is now being talked about in the same breath as Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but Wenger has warned fans and the media not to get too carried away with such comparisons for the 23-year-old.

"Bale has the potential to develop and become [like] the players you compare him to," he said. "However, Messi has won two or three Champions League [titles], a few championships, scored 95 goals in a year, so let's not go too quick.

"You are always very quick here [in England], but let's slow down a little bit."

Speculation surrounding Bale's future has gone into overdrive in recent weeks, with suggestions that he could be the subject of summer interest from Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Tottenham fans will hope they can keep hold of their prized asset, and know that Champions League qualification this season will be imperative if they are to do so.

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Tottenham Hotspur
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Gareth Bale