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Feb 14, 2013

Garde: I wanted to sign Bale

Lyon manager Remi Garde has revealed he was hopeful of recruiting Gareth Bale while the Welshman was rising through the ranks at Southampton.

Garde, who has devised a plan to keep Bale quiet when Lyon travel to White Hart Lane for Thursday's Europa League tie, admits he has long admired the 23-year-old and is disappointed he did not hear of the winger earlier.

Former Lyon youth director, Georges Prost, first discovered Bale's talent in 2005 and Garde quickly made an enquiry with the Saints, although it was too late to purchase the highly-rated player on a cheap deal.

"Georges Prost worked with Gareth as a youngster at Southampton," Garde said. ""He told me a few years ago about him, but he was about 16 at the time and he had already made his debut for Southampton. He was a young man but he was already expensive then, too expensive.

"Prost told me how quick he was then, how much skill he was blessed with even at that age, so it's not a surprise to me to see the top form Gareth has been in. He is the sort of player that we do need to keep an eye on [on Thursday]."

Garde returns to north london in a professional capacity for the first time since leaving Arsenal in 1999, having managed just 27 league appearances under Arsene Wenger during his time at the Emirates, giving him added emotion ahead of the match.

"I can't deny that when I wore the red shirt of Arsenal the matches against Spurs were important moments for me," Garde said. "It was important to beat Spurs and I suppose in truth those feelings are still there in my head now, even though that page in my career has turned now."

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