Ex-Southampton boss lifts the lid on Man Utd’s failed attempt to sign Bale

09:48 27 February 2013

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale (left) celebrates with team-mate Jan Vertonghen (right). Photo: Adam Davy/PA

PA Wire

Former Southampton manager George Burley has revealed he had a meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson over a move for Gareth Bale before the Welshman joined Spurs back in 2007.

Manchester United boss Ferguson has previously admitted he was interested in signing Bale from Southampton, and Burley – who was Saints boss between 2005 and 2008 – has now explained just how close the Red Devils came to sealing the deal.

“There were a number of clubs chasing Gareth,” Burley said in The Mirror.

“Me and the chairman had a meeting with Sir Alex and their chief executive about going there but I felt that Gareth was as good as Theo [Walcott] or even better so we weren’t going to accept less money.

“He is a player who had that quality. I had every faith in Gareth. I knew how good he was and we weren’t going to let him go for what was offered.”

After a difficult start with the north Londoners, Bale has blossomed. His stunning brace against West Ham on Monday took his tally for the season to 19 and he is being mentioned in the same breath as Cristiano Ronaldo.

Burley added: “I felt it was a little bit of a gamble to move when he left.

“And there is no doubt that the first six months he struggled a bit at Tottenham, but his character shone through and even now all he talks about is keeping improving.

“It is fantastic to see that attitude from a youngster even when people are already talking about him being world class.

“He was always great at free-kicks and he has changed his style.

“He has always bent it up and over and now he hits it with top spin rather than bend. It is unusual for someone with that quality in his game.

“From day one he was always exciting.He wanted to listen, wanted to learn.

“He is stronger now and he is quicker and he is good in the air as well. Free-kicks, corners, great left foot with energy and pace.

“They are not bad qualities to have in your locker.”

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