Gareth Bale has some way to go before matching the qualities of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, according to Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand.
Ferdinand took to Twitter to claim Messi and Ronaldo were in a different league to the Tottenham Hotspur star, despite his excellent form so far in 2013.
Ferdinand tweeted: "People mentioning Bale in the same breath as @Cristiano + Messi really don't know football! Bale been 1 of best 2 in PL this year but…he is not on CR7 + Messi's level yet."
Bale scored a stunning 30-yard last-minute winner against West Ham on Monday night and has netted nine goals in his last seven appearances for club and country, but England defender Ferdinand believes Bale needs to keep up this form for a few more years before he reaches the heights of Barcelona's Messi and Real Madrid's Ronaldo.
"[If] he carries on doing what he is doing for 2/3yrs then there can be a debate," he tweeted. "Bale showed me a clean…pair of heals [sic] once this year so I'm in a good position to judge!"
He added: "CR7 + Messi have been on another planet for 4-5yrs #consistent."
Bale has been tipped by many, including his coach Andre Villas-Boas, to win the Premier League Player of the Year award. The Welsh international has scored 15 league goals for Spurs this season, but will face competition from free-scoring United striker Robin van Persie and Liverpool forward Luis Suarez for the accolade.