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By ESPN Staff
Jan 23, 2007

Legend Le Tiss: Bale should learn trade at Saints

Southampton legend Matthew Le Tissier has urged Saints whizzkid Gareth Bale to stay with the Championship club as transfer speculation continues to surround the teenage left-back.

Southampton have already knocked back an undisclosed bid from Tottenham and an £8million package from Manchester United for the hugely-talented 17-year-old.

Saints are remaining tight-lipped over the latest reports of a £10million offer from an un-named Premiership side, with insiders toeing the club line of 'never commenting on transfer speculation'.

Manager George Burley has told Bale not to go down the same route has Theo Walcott, who quit Saints for Arsenal this time last year and has been a bit-part player ever since.

And Le Tissier, Southampton`s last free-kick specialist, feels Bale should continue to learn his trade at St Mary`s rather than bench-warming at a bigger club.

'I would advise Gareth to stay for the benefit of his career,' said Le Tissier, who was speaking at the launch of Saints skipper Claus Lundekvam`s testimonial year.

'Gareth is an amazing talent and, of course, bigger clubs are interested in him. But look at Theo Walcott.

'He`s getting the odd run-out but he`s not playing week-in, week-out, and at that age you need games to continue your learning curve.

'Gareth is playing every week in a hard league and he should continue to do so to add to his football education.'

Bale`s current contract has 18 months to run and talks over a one-year extension - the maximum allowed for a player of his age - have been shelved until the summer.

But Le Tissier, a one-club man who stayed on the south coast for 16 years despite the attentions of the top sides in the country, feels Bale is too young to be considering a big-money move just yet.

'You cannot blame him for moving on if that is what he wants but he is still very young to be thinking of moving to a big club,' added Le Tissier.

'He`s a fantastic talent and a Saints supporter. I want him to stay at least until the end of the season and hopefully if we get promoted he might stay longer.'

Norwegian centre-half Lundekvam also feels Bale, Wales' youngest-ever international, should stick with Saints, adding: 'I think he should stay.

'He's only 17 and has only been in the spotlight for six months, so he has plenty of time on his side. He doesn't need to hurry.

'He's a great talent and a fantastic kid. His feet are firmly on the ground, he has a good family behind him and he has nothing to lose by staying and playing regularly.'