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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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Zidane: Bale my player of the year

Zinedine Zidane says of all the players this season he has been most impressed by the "unique" talent of Gareth Bale.

• Bale talks up Spurs unity

Bale, 23, has been in inspirational form this term and is being tipped for a big-money move in the summer, with both Barcelona and Real Madrid reportedly interested in the Tottenham man.

Zidane, who could join the coaching staff at Madrid next season, went to watch the Wales international in Spurs' Europa League tie against Lyon in February, and was encouraged by what he saw.

"This year the player who's impressed me most is not actually playing in the Champions League. He's playing in the other cup [Europa League], and that's Bale," Zidane said.

"He's unique. He makes things look easy, his pace is frightening, his acceleration is unbelievable because of his ability to go through the gears in very little space. Plus, he's very good technically which is also important. We mustn't forget that he plays football very well!

"And he's really impressed me. I've seen him two or three times live, including recently at Lyon, which wasn't necessarily his best game, but where every time he got the ball he can surprise you."

Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas described Bale as "world class" after his display during the 2-1 win at Swansea at the weekend. Zidane agrees with the Portuguese, although he does not believe he is at the same standard yet as Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, as some have suggested this season.

"He's perhaps not quite at the level of the other two, but he's different," Zidane said. "So personally I don't think he's far off."

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