Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas has called for Gareth Bale to be named Premier League Player of the Year for 2013, in the aftermath of his match-winning display at Upton Park on Monday evening.
The 23-year-old Welsh winger scored twice in Spurs' 3-2 victory over West Ham last night, with the decisive goal coming courtesy of a stupendous 25-yard strike; Bale's eighth goal in his last six games.
Bale opened the scoring for the visitors, before West Ham hit-back with an Andy Carroll penalty and a well-taken goal from Hammers hero Joe Cole. Second-half substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson restored parity from close-range, leaving the Tottenham star to steal the show when he snatched all three points with a brilliant long-range effort.
In the aftermath of the game, Villas-Boas talked up Bale's chances of winning the PFA Player of the Year award, enthusing about his individual quality, adding that his performances this season are worthy of personal accolades.
"I think so, it would be truly deserved, but it's not up to me to make that consideration," explained the Portuguese tactician. "You have to recognise he's having a tremendous season. So probably a contender, he is for us, hopefully he can get there.
"He is a great, great talent and to see him keep trying in the last minute exemplifies the talent that he is. He is enjoying his football, when you see him joyful on the pitch he gives you rewards."
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce was equally effusive in his praise for Bale's performance, despite the disappointing result that tarnished a night to celebrate the 20-year anniversary since the death of club legend, Bobby Moore.
"We've one man to thank for tonight's result and that's Gareth Bale," the Hammers boss reflected. "He's the difference and his wonder goals are continuing. You have got to admire the quality of the goal.
"We've heard a lot about Michu at Swansea and what [Robin] Van Persie has done for Manchester United. But, at the moment there's nobody doing more for a football club than Gareth Bale for Tottenham, by the quality of goals he is scoring and consistent level of goals."
Bale has undoubtedly been one of the leading lights in the Premier League this season, and in response to recent calls for him to be named PFA Player of the Year, GiveMeFootball has identified the top five contenders for the prestigious award in 2013…
Michu | Swansea City
The £2million summer signing from Rayo Vallecano has been arguably one of the greatest value-for-money acquisitions in Premier League history, with a return of 15 league goals in 25 appearances for Swansea during his debut season.
Uncapped at international level, the Spanish attacking midfielder has been a revelation at the Liberty Stadium, and was also on the scoresheet as Michael Laudrup's side lifted the Capital One Cup at Wembley, following their emphatic 5-0 victory over Bradford City on Sunday.
Juan Mata | Chelsea
The 24-year-old's midfield mastery has been instrumental to everything positive in what has been an otherwise disappointing season for Chelsea in 2012/13.
Rafa Benitez has had much to thank Mata for during his brief stint at Stamford Bridge, with the Spain international chipping in with 17 goals in all competitions, as well as numerous assists for his Blues team-mates.
Mata will have to be at his clinical best for the remainder of the campaign, if Chelsea are to secure a top-four finish, with the increasingly profligate Fernando Torres failing to provide any real firepower in attack.
Luis Suarez | Liverpool
Where would Liverpool be without their Uruguayan hit-man this season? Suarez has been at his brilliant best for the Anfield club again this season, netting 25 goals in 37 appearances for Brendan Rodgers's side in all competitions.
The South American striker currently lies behind only Robin van Persie in the Premier League goalscoring charts, and continues to torment defenders across the continent with his tireless displays in a Liverpool shirt.
Robin van Persie | Manchester United
Manchester United's 12-point lead at the top of the Premier League table has a lot to do with the scintillating form of Van Persie.
Since the deadly Dutchman's £24million arrival from Arsenal in the summer, Sir Alex Ferguson's side have found an extra gear in the race for the domestic title, blowing reigning champions and local rivals Manchester City away.
Inspired by their prolific front-man, United are still on course for a domestic and European treble, with their FA Cup and Champions League progression also looking likely, in what could prove to be a sensational debut campaign for RVP at Old Trafford.
Gareth Bale | Tottenham Hotspur
After taking his Premier League tally for the season to 15 goals against West Ham, Bale's brilliance seemingly knows no bounds, with the Welshman having single-handedly won numerous games for Tottenham this season.
His performances have attracted admiring glances from Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, with football experts starting to talk about the Spurs star in the same breath as world football's leading players Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Bale will be playing Champions League football next season, whether that is with Tottenham or elsewhere. But, while his future remains unknown, what's certain is that he will have a pivotal part to play in the north London club's push for a top-four finish this year.