Manchester United target Adam Lallana believes Gareth Bale is an inspiration for every young footballer looking to make the step up to an elite European level.
Sky Sports reports how the Southampton captain has enjoyed a rapid rise to stardom this season, turning in a series of scintillating performances at St Mary's, which have put him in contention for a place in Roy Hodgson's 23-man England squad bound for the World Cup in Brazil this summer.
Despite the superlatives that have been thrown his way in recent months, Lallana insists he is staying grounded, and points to Real Madrid's Welsh winger Bale - who came through the south coast club's Academy alongside the current Saints skipper - as a fine example of how hard work and commitment can help any player realise his full potential.
"He's moved to Real Madrid for £100m, but he's still competing with the best like [Cristiano] Ronaldo," he told Sky Sports News. "He's got that X-Factor, he's an unbelievable individual and he's proven his worth.
"When they are setting the standard it shows when they are worth that much money and they're still putting in the work and still wanting to get better, wanting to score more goals, then that's the attitude that every professional footballer should have really.
"He's gone to Real Madrid with bundles of pressure on him, can he handle the price tag? He just looks like he's enjoying his football like everyone else really in the Real Madrid team."
Bale moved to the Santiago Bernabeu from Tottenham Hotspur for a world-record fee last summer, six years after leaving Southampton off the back of a sensational final campaign in the Premier League, that saw the Welshman claim the PFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards.
Meanwhile, Lallana's fine form for Mauricio Pochettino's side has also seen him linked with a transfer this summer, with the Daily Express suggesting he's received admiring glances from Old Trafford, and that Red Devils boss David Moyes is keen to sign the 25-year-old when the transfer window reopens.
Given Manchester United's current lack of midfield talent, Southampton's latest star man could be exactly the sort of player needed to take them to the next level.
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