QPR manager Mark Hughes has urged Tottenham winger Gareth Bale to remain at the north London club for a few more years before deciding on whether he wants to play football on the continent.
Rumours have resurfaced that the 22-year-old is attracting the interest of European giants Barcelona but Hughes, whose side play Spurs tomorrow evening looking to stay out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone, believes his compatriot should stay put for the time being.
He said: “He is still a young man – I think he still has a lot to achieve in the Premier League and I’m sure he is enjoying his football and his life in the Premier League at the moment. He has a huge profile and has no reason to go so young.
“He is playing at a good club that are challenging for honours. I think when he is asked the question he answers it honestly and says that in the future that is what he might like to do but I don’t think he is anticipating moving any time soon.”
Hughes joined Barcelona from Manchester United in the summer of 1986 at the age of 22 and reckons he was too young to make an instant impact at the Nou Camp and he left the following summer before eventually returning to Old Trafford.
“I went when I was young and it was probably a little bit too soon for me,” he said.
“Ideally if I had had the opportunity later I would have been more successful than I was. I think there is time for Gareth in the future if he thinks that is what he wants to do.
“I went when I wasn’t married and didn’t have any children and my life wasn’t as settled as it would have been at 26, 27, 28 and that always helps when you have that support.”
Although he never worked with Bale whilst in charge of Wales Hughes is still a big admirer of his abilities and knows his QPR players have a job on their hands keeping the precocious winger quiet.
He said: “You have just got to stop him in possession and stop the ball getting to him in the first place. When he does get it you have hopefully got to force him down a blind alley and not let him have the affect that his ability can have on a game. It is difficult to do but we will endeavour to do that.
“He is very difficult to contain if he is in a run of form where everything is flowing for him. We will have to work hard to restrict his opportunities because when he does get opportunities he invariably creates chances or takes them himself.”
Despite Bale’s qualities he has been unable to arrest the slide in form for Spurs, culminating in last weekend’s 5-1 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea.
But Hughes is fully aware of the strength of Harry Redknapp’s side and is not expecting an easy task tomorrow evening.
“They haven’t been as you would expect from the quality of players they have but make no bones about it on any day that they turn up at your ground they have the capacity and ability to win Premier League games and to win them well given the talent they have at their disposal.
“We have to be mindful of that irrespective of the fact that they haven’t won as many games in recent weeks as they would have liked.
“They are still a very good team – so it is a tall order but we have gone up against some good teams in recent weeks and acquitted ourselves really well and we will have to do that again.”