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Villas-Boas cools Bale exit rumours

Andre Villas-Boas has moved to clarify Tottenham's desire to keep hold of star turn Gareth Bale, after the Spurs boss hinted the Welshman could be sold following Wednesday night's 2-1 win against Liverpool.

• Blog: Midfield is top priority

The suggestion from Villas-Boas that he 'hoped' to keep Bale at White Hart Lane re-ignited speculation that the winger is set to become a Real Madrid player sooner rather than later, but he has attempted to dampen the rumours with a statement on the club's website.

"Gareth is performing at a tremendously high level at the moment, along with many of his team-mates, making a vital contribution as we seek to narrow the gap on the leaders," Villas-Boas said. "Like all of our key players, Gareth is on a long-term contract as we continue to build for the future and his progression will be of benefit to our team.

"He is an important part of our future and we have no intention of letting any of our top players go."

Meanwhile, Villas-Boas has laid down the gauntlet to his Tottenham players after they closed to within three points of third spot in the Premier League after Wednesday night's win against Liverpool.

The Spurs manager is in a buoyant mood ahead of Saturday's trip to Craven Cottage to face Martin Jol's Fulham, setting his sights on overtaking his former club Chelsea as they try to come to terms with yet another new manager on the touchline.

"To see us three points from third place is a massive boost for the team," he said. "We came back from Lazio to a 3-1 win against West Ham, who were ahead of us, and now a 2-1 win against Liverpool - a team that shares the same objectives as us. I have to compliment the players on their efforts.

"Those results put us back on track to where we want to be. It doesn't stop here. We have to maintain our form and one more win against Fulham would be brilliant because we want to join the teams at the top."

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