Ex-Southampton boss Burley: I always rated Bale ahead of Walcott

Former Southampton boss George Burley always rated Gareth Bale ahead of Theo Walcott.

The ex-Saints pair face-off this weekend as Bale's Tottenham hosts Walcott and Arsenal.

“I always thought Gareth was the better prospect,” Burley told the Mirror. “Theo had different attributes. Gareth was more the package in terms of that quality on the ball.

“Theo left Southampton when he was 16. That was in the very early stages of his career and he didn’t have that many games under his belt, while Gareth had two seasons.

“I think that has shown as Gareth has developed into a better player. I think in those early years, any player is building up.

"If you can get those two seasons under your belt at least, then when you move to a big club, you have certainly got a much better chance.

“I look back at Richard Wright and Darren Ambrose who maybe left Ipswich a bit early. It is like any other job – you have to serve your apprenticeship.

“There are not many players like Wayne Rooney who are Premier League regulars at the age of 16 or 17.

“If you can get that good upbringing in terms of regular games in the Championship and league football, it puts you in great stead when you move into the Premier League.”

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