Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini believes Gareth Bale would be “the strongest target” for the leading clubs in Europe this summer if his club Tottenham made him available amid reported interest from Juventus.
Reports in Italy claim the Serie A club are keen to sign the Wales winger, who has caught the eye with some sparkling performances for Spurs this season — including a Champions League hat-trick at the San Siro against Inter Milan.
And Mancini reckons Juve would take a leap in quality if they were to prise the 21-year-old from the north London club.
He said in an interview to Turin sports newspaper Tuttosport: “Last year Bale had already proved his value but his career had not yet taken off.
“Now you would need a lot of money (to sign him). He is a very expensive player.
“Certainly, Juve with Bale would gain a lot.
“Moreover, what is certain is that if Tottenham decides to put him on the market, Bale would be the strongest target in the summer.
“Perhaps he (Bale) is the only player who is not a striker that can make a difference.
“Without him, Tottenham loses 50% of their potential.”
Bale's contract at White Hart Lane runs to 2014 and Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy last month assured fans the club had no intention of selling him.
Meanwhile, Mancini has said that City will never make a move to sign Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
The Italy international was a City target last year, but Mancini believes his team has the goalkeeper position covered by the talented Joe Hart.
Mancini added: “The way I see it is that Buffon remains one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
“But we have decided for some time to point on Hart, who is a young player with enormous potential.
“We believe so much in him to the point of having sacrificed a great number one like (Shay) Given.
“Hence, I can categorically say that we will never make any offers for Buffon.”
And City midfielder Michael Johnson accepts he might have to go out on loan for the remainder of the season.
Johnson, 22, continued his comeback from a cruciate ligament injury on Tuesday night when he played 45 minutes for the reserves in the 4-0 victory against Rochdale.
“We have a lot of world class players. That is why we are second in the league,” he said