Football - Bale among the very best - Villas-Boas

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas hailed Gareth Bale as one of the world's best players after the winger notched his first Barclays Premier League hat-trick in the 4-0 victory at Aston Villa.

Bale was the undoubted star of the show at Villa Park, twice going close to netting in a goalless first half and then, after Jermain Defoe had given Spurs the lead in the 57th minute, beating goalkeeper Brad Guzan in the 61st, 73rd and 84th to give the scoreline a look that more accurately reflected the visitors' dominance throughout the contest.

It took the 23-year-old Wales international - scorer of a famous treble in Tottenham's Champions League clash with Inter Milan in 2010-11 - to 10 goals for the campaign.

Asked if there were any better players in world football than Bale, Villas-Boas said: "He is up there with the best.

"He is showing tremendous skills and talent, I think he is improving every day - he is such a young player - and he is helping the team. He is one of our major assets.

"His personality is wonderful, he is going through an excellent moment of his professional and personal life, and we are benefiting from that."

Asked if he thought Bale could get even better, Villas-Boas said: "I think so. You always expect that the team can make an individual even better.

"The team changes so much from one year to another, and as he keeps learning, he will feel even better and probably his performances will improve.

"His finishing is very accurate. He has been prolific in front of goal this season and I think he is enjoying getting into those positions.

"His left foot is wonderful and the power and direction he applies on the ball is wonderful too."