Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has said he "wouldn't go as far" as to agree with those claiming that Tottenham's Gareth Bale could be described as the third-best player in the world.
Bale again stole the show for Tottenham as his two devastating free-kicks earned Arsenal's north London rivals a 2-1 first leg lead in their Europa League clash with Lyon.
That left several pundits suggesting the Wales international is behind only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the pecking order, but Wenger said: "I wouldn't go as far as that.
"He has the potential to develop and to get close to the players you compare him to, but Ronaldo and Messi?
"Messi has won two or three Champions League titles. He has won a few championships. He scored more than 90 goals last year. Let's not go too quick [in comparing Bale to Messi]. You are always very quick here, but let's slow down a bit."
Wenger said his decision to sign Theo Walcott from Southampton in 2006 but eventually not bring Bale from the same club was not one he regretted, explaining: "At some stage, we were looking to take the two if possible.
"We got Walcott, and I am very happy with that. Look, if I tell you the number of players we did not sign that we should have signed, you will be amazed. It's the same for every club - you sometimes miss out on players."
Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas was keen to play down the euphoria developing around Bale, saying: "Bale is going through a great individual moment - you have to recognise that.
"He is scoring lots of goals for the team, and I think this is his best goalscoring season for Tottenham. You can see the player is enjoying his football and getting a buzz out of it.
"Once things like this happen, individual players keep their motivation high and they are able to help the team reach their objectives. But we cannot expect this from him in every game."