Premier League - Villas-Boas fears Bale exit

Andre Villas-Boas admits Gareth Bale's future at Tottenham is likely to hinge on whether they qualify for the Champions League.

Bale is enjoying the most successful year of his short, yet dazzling career. The 23-year-old has scored 13 times for the London club and he has also found the net on four occasions for Wales - the latest of which came against Austria on Wednesday night.

Villas-Boas thinks Tottenham will boost their chances of retaining the player if they can offer him the chance to mix it with Europe's best next season "I think (qualifying will secure his future at Spurs). This is where most of the clubs want to be, and where most of the players want to play," said Villas-Boas, whose side currently sit fourth in the table.

"Gareth's future is intimately related to what the objectives that we achieve for the season. Hopefully qualifying for the Champions League means we can attract better players and continue to hold on to our best players. It is difficult for other teams with the economic situation as it is to buy a player of this dimension.

"At the moment we are very, very fortunate to have him and I think we can reach our objectives with him at this level. If we reach our objectives we can hopefully continue to have Gareth in our club."

Bale grabbed the world's attention in 2010 when he made a mockery of Inter Milan right-back Maicon at White Hart Lane.

The Welshman has not rested on his laurels since that memorable night in north London. He has bulked up, improved his pace and now has the ability to play through the middle as a number 10 or a main striker, leading to comparisons with Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Because Jermain Defoe is out for up to three weeks due to ankle ligament damage, and Emmanuel Adebayor will only return to training on Friday, Bale may start up front in Saturday's home game against Newcastle.

"There is a possibility that we continue with the 4-4-2 with Gareth as a striker," said Villas-Boas, who started Bale just behind Defoe at West Brom last weekend.

"He's having a tremendous year. I think he's such an outstanding player all round. His performance (against Austria) was outstanding once again. He's certainly amongst the five best players (in the league)."