Burley keen to quash Bale transfer rumours

January 4, 2007

Southampton manager George Burley has again moved to quash speculation linking teenage left-back Gareth Bale with a January move to the Premiership.

Tottenham and Manchester United are believed to be interested in the 17-year-old Wales international, while one report even suggested Real Madrid are keeping tabs on his progress.

But Burley insists Bale, who has 18 months left on his current contract and is set to be offered new terms, is better off playing regular football in the Coca-Cola Championship than warming the bench at a higher level.

'There has been no change on Gareth. I've said all along we want to keep him as long as possible and nothing has changed,' said Burley.

'I spoke to Gareth's parents last week and they are as pleased as punch with the way things are progressing, which was nice to hear.

'He has made great progress this season but he is still only 17 and still has a long way to go.

'The bottom line is how he is progressing and how much he can improve. He's doing well and we want to keep him for a long time.'

Bale is an unlikely starter in Saturday's FA Cup trip to Torquay, which will no doubt fuel further speculation that any prospective buyers do not want him cup-tied.

But Burley added: 'It's a tight hamstring, probably through playing so much on heavy surfaces. We hope it's not serious and he will be okay for next week.'