Honduras international Andy Najar has been earning rave reviews for his displays with Anderlecht over the past 18 months and, with long-time pursuers Tottenham Hotspur reported to be launching another bid for his signature, the rising star has credited a past training stint in north London as the decisive moment in his development.
Then establishing himself in MLS with DC United at the age of 18, Najar spent two weeks with the club’s first-team squad towards the end of 2011, and believes his time learning from the likes of Gareth Bale was pivotal towards helping him take his game to the next level.
‘I learned a lot from him [Bale],’ he told DH.be. ‘He’s super professional.
‘He’s so open and friendly, always talking with all the guys. He gave a lot of great advice.
‘I was also impressed by Rafael Van der Vaart. Just watching his fantastic left foot in action helped my progression.
‘Those two weeks allowed me to experience European football and helped ease my transition to Anderlecht.’
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Aged 21, Najar was linked to various Premier League clubs following his time in England, including Arsenal, Newcastle United and Spurs themselves, before completing a $3 million move to Anderlecht at the start of 2013.
Making 20 league appearances during the club’s 2013-14 title-winning campaign, the 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year has featured at right-back for most of his spell in Belgium, but maintains that his preferred role is further up the pitch.
‘I always prefer to play as a right winger,’ he said. ‘This is a more difficult job at right-back for me.
‘As a defender, you have to really exert yourself, but I like to give everything. I've always had great physical abilities. I know I can run fast and long. When I was little, I once ran a mile in little more than five minutes.’
Making two appearances at the World Cup this summer, Najar was once again linked with a switch to Spurs before heading off to Brazil, as well as to Hull and Valencia, but instead opted to sign a new contract committing him to Anderlecht until 2018.
Nevertheless, fresh reports claim that Mauricio Pochettino's side are preparing another bid for the 20-times capped speedster, with scouts understood to have been sent to watch him in the midweek Champions League defeat to Borussia Dortmund.
A reported asking price of £4 million would appear a real bargain but, if he continues to progress towards fulfilling his enormous potential over the next few months, then Spurs could well face some serious competition for his services come the winter.