Luring Gareth Bale away from Tottenham will be 'very, very difficult' insists Andre Villas-Boas

The Spurs forward has been linked with moves to Real Madrid and Manchester United

Andre Villas-Boas remains confident Gareth Bale will stay at White Hart Lane this summer despite Tottenham's failure to qualify for the Champions League.

Bale bagged his 26th goal of the season to give Spurs a 1-0 win over Sunderland, but it was not enough to earn a place in Europe's premier club competition as Arsenal defeated Newcastle by the same scoreline at St James' Park.

Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and both Manchester clubs have all been linked with the 23-year-old, who won every leading player accolade in the country this term.

Unlike Spurs, all four of those clubs will be able to offer the forward Champions League football next season. But that does not mean the Welshman is on his way out of north London, according to his manager.

When asked whether Bale would still be at Spurs next term, Villas-Boas said: "Yes, that's the information we have.

"It is very, very difficult to lure a player of this dimension away.

"You have to hold onto your best assets."

Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, writing in his annual chairman's message to supporters, underlined his desire to keep the squad's best players at White Hart Lane.

The wording was not as strong as it has been in previous years when speculation mounted about Bale and Luka Modric, but the message was still the same.

"Looking ahead to the summer, we shall continue to seek to strengthen and improve the team and to retain key players," Levy wrote.

Villas-Boas last night bemoaned the decision making of referee Andre Marriner, who denied Tottenham a pretty clear penalty in the first half.

In the 21st minute with the score 0-0 at both Tottenham and Newcastle, Bale entered the Sunderland box and went down after colliding with Sebastian Larsson. The Swede used both arms to knock the former Southampton man to the ground. But, rather than award Spurs a penalty, Marriner handed Bale his fifth yellow card of the season for simulation.

Villas-Boas thinks had Spurs taken a first-half lead from the spot, that would have applied too much pressure on to Arsenal, who did not score until the 50th minute.

"I don't want to put the spotlight on the referee, but I think it (was) absolutely decisive," said the Tottenham manager, whose side were also denied a penalty when Carlos Cuellar handled Clint Dempsey's shot after the break.

"Apart from the distance that separates the grounds, the emotions are felt very strongly. It would have certainly been felt at Newcastle, and it would certainly change the running of this game too.

"Sunderland would have to be more adventurous, and so there would be more space."

Villas-Boas has repeatedly defended Bale this season amid accusations that he dives, and he thinks Marriner got the decision wrong.

"It was an extremely disappointing decision, in my opinion, for the fact that Andre was on the conference at the start of season and we spoke about Gareth's incidents," Villas-Boas said.

"It was a poor decision. It could have potentially changed the nature of other game too."

PA

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