Is Tottenham's Townsend the next Gareth Bale?

Tottenham winger Andros Townsend set Wembley on fire on Friday night in his first start for England.

The 22-year-old was given the nod by England boss Roy Hodgson after impressing with Spurs so far this season. Despite the huge influx of young attacking talent at White Hart Lane this summer following the departure of world record signing Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, it has been Spurs’ own home grown prospect that has taken all the plaudits so far.

This summer’s revolution at Tottenham under Portuguese manager Andre Villas-Boas saw seven new players arrive at the Lane – six out of seven of them 25 years or younger and three out seven attacking midfielders.

However, this term has been all about Townsend – he has been at the heart of almost everything positive for Spurs so far, along with new playmaker Christian Eriksen and January signing Lewis Holtby.

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Townsend has been with Spurs since the tender age of 9 and has completed no less than nine loan spells since 2009 – the last of which was at Queen’s Park Ranger this year where he reunited with former Spurs coach Harry Redknapp who, incidentally, over saw the development of Gareth Bale before Villas-Boas arrived last term.

I discussed last week which of the two Spurs coaches deserved the most credit for Bale’s development, upon the assertion of Redknapp last week that he made Gareth Bale ‘tougher’ and essentially suggested he had been behind his growth into the superstar he is today. I came to the conclusion, sitting comfortably on the fence, that both Redknapp and Villas-Boas deserved credit (as well as Southampton where he had been as a youth prospect).

However, the same argument could be looming in the future over Andros Townsend who, by the looks of his current surge of form for both club and country, is on his way to becoming the ‘next Gareth Bale’ (apart from not being Welsh.)

Between the Premier League and Europa League, he’s scored one goal and made three assists for Villas-Boas side over seven appearances which, interestingly, is better form than Bale was achieving at 22 in the 2011/12 season (Bale had scored one goal and made no assists).

That same season Bale finished with 13 goals and 17 assists in all competitions – Townsend has got a long way to go this season to prove he can equal that but, on present form and fitness, you wouldn’t put it past him. Ironically, Spurs spent over £100 million this summer with a large portion of that investment dedicated to replacing Bale. Little did they know, they already had a youngster with the potential to do that all on his own residing on the books since the turn of the millennium.

image: © Jan S0L0

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