Arsene Wenger has conceded that his biggest regret was not to seal a deal for current Tottenham Hotspur superstar Gareth Bale while he was at Southampton, especially because the club had already signed Theo Walcott from the very same squad.
Bale has become a sensation, not just in England, but around the world. The rumors and speculation about a world record £90 million move to Real Madrid have been doing the rounds. But Wenger looked back at a time when he had the option of signing the winger for less than £10 million.
The Welsh winger has created havoc for defenses in the Barclays Premier League, and his elaborate goal scoring tally suggests just that. Bale scored 21 goals from 33 appearances in the league, tormenting defenders with his pace.
Traditionally being a left back for the Saints, Bale was their official free kick taker, and with his natural left foot, he developed tremendous curl on the ball. Some of his goals from free kicks for Spurs have left experts wondering about his technique.
The 23-year old started his career as a youth academy player for Southampton in 2005. He was immediately recognized as a potential talent at the young age, and was offered a professional contract by the club. Bale represented Southampton on 40 occasions, scoring 5 goals, shortly after, he was in demand by the top Premier League clubs.
According to SkySports, Wenger was close to signing the youngster, but realised that he already had current England international left-back Ashley Cole and current Manchester City left back Gael Clichy at his disposal.
Wenger said, “We didn’t take him as we had Ashley Cole and Gael Clichy and didn’t want another left-back.”
“I must confess it was a huge mistake as he can play in midfield. He struggled at the start for Tottenham, then they moved him to midfield and he has done exceptionally well.”
“The career of a player sometimes depends on playing in the right position.”
Wenger did talk about the possibility of signing both Walcott and Bale from Southampton, a duo that would obviously have strengthened the Gunners. However, the French manager was pleased that Walcott arrived at the Emirates Stadium, and values the England international as a quality player. Wenger also conceded that the true potential value of a player can never be ascertained by club.
Wenger continued, “At some stage, we were on about taking the two if possible.”
“But we could get Walcott and I am very happy. You’d be amazed by the number of players we should have signed. Every club misses players.”
“He has the potential. Now it depends on his consistency at the top level and injuries.”
“If you look at Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – the two head figures of world football – they have fantastic health and don’t miss a game. Bale has power, pace and direct play in his game.”
“I still think he is a typical flank player and they are so difficult to find. I think he is too young to move to the middle.”