Southampton wary of Gareth Bale ahead of trip to Tottenham

The Spurs forward comes up against his former side

Mauricio Pochettino believes Gareth Bale is an “amazing player” and one which would not have left Southampton for tomorrow's opponents Tottenham under the current regime.

The Wales international's star may have grown at White Hart Lane but it was on the south coast that he honed his talent.

Having graduated from Saints' academy, Bale progressed to the first-team aged 16 and impressed enough in the second tier to earn a move to Tottenham at the end of his maiden season.

The 23-year-old has become one of the world's best since moving to north London in 2007 and this week picked up a clean sweep of gongs for the season's standout player.

Saints face the unenviable task of attempting to shackle Bale tomorrow and Pochettino, a former team-mate of Diego Maradona and Gabriel Batistuta, has been impressed by his form.

"He is a very decisive player - an amazing player because of his speed, strength and goalscoring abilities," the Southampton manager said.

"He has shown that throughout the season this year so I rate him very highly.

"Our collective game needs to be very strong tomorrow. We can't just focus on Gareth Bale - there are other players in that team that can raise their game.

"In a collective sense, we need to be very focused and mentally ready as we need to be in every single game that we play in the Premier League.

"We always need to be mentally focused as you never know."

Bale is one of a number of high-profile players to have left Saints in recent years after coming through the club's youth system.

Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are other notable departures but Pochettino believes the days of selling young talent are over.

"With this current club's ambition, dedication and vision for the future, it would be very hard for Gareth Bale to leave this club," said the Argentinian, who last week spoke of his Champions League ambitions.

"Right now, our mentality is to keep our best players and we spoke that with Nicola [Cortese, executive chairman] from the first day.

"We want to keep our greatest talents but at the same time now we need more time in order to develop our greatest talents as it happened with Bale, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott.

"Now we need to be able to keep our greatest players, our greatest talents like Luke Shaw and James Ward-Prowse, in order for them to develop their football and become top footballers.

"It is a shame we don't have these three players available for Southampton now but that is our project for the future."

The aforementioned Shaw will be fit to face Tottenham tomorrow after overcoming a knee complaint - a welcome boost given his replacement at left-back, Danny Fox, starts a three-match ban after last weekend's red card.

Gaston Ramirez was another sent off in a heavy 3-0 defeat to West Brom, which will have no doubt impacted Southampton's fair play ranking.

Saints are in the running for a potential Europa League place via UEFA's Fair Play League but, like Liverpool, have confirmed they would not accept a place in the competition.

"We would not accept it either if we were awarded that possibility," Pochettino, speaking through his interpreter, said.

"We have spoken with the chairman and decided not to take that offer because I think in football what you are awarded in football needs to be earned on the pitch.

"We will only accept possibilities when we've earned them on the pitch and not just by fair play, but actually earning it with points and results."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable