Former Saints star Gareth Bale believes he is in the best form of his career, but has declared that he has not yet reached his peak.

The Welshman came to Tottenham’s rescue on Thursday night, scoring two sensational free-kicks in a 2-1 Europa League victory over Lyon.

That followed his brace in the 2-1 Premier League win over Newcastle last weekend.

Bale said: “It’s probably the best I’ve been playing so far in my career, but I’ve still got room for improvement.”

The 23-year-old is contracted to Spurs until 2016, but his form has led to inevitable speculation that the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid are planning summer swoops for him.

Bale left Saints to join Tottenham in May 2007, in a deal that was structured to be worth up to £10m, although there was no sell-on clause inserted.

An early settlement was later struck, with Saints eventually receiving about £7m in total. As part of that agreement, they also signed keeper Tommy Forecast from Spurs on a five-year contract. He has never played a first-team game for the club.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who has signed Saints academy graduates Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during his time in north London, confirmed this week that he had been keen to sign Bale when he was at St Mary’s. He believes it is still too early to compare him with the best in the world, but admitted he has come a long way since the raw teenager he first saw.

“Bale has the potential to develop and become the players that you compare him to,” said Wenger. “However, Messi has won two or three Champions League, a few championships, scored 95 goals in a year, so let’s not go too quick.”

Wenger stands by the decisions he made over Walcott and Bale.

“It was Walcott and Bale, and we were at some stage on (about) taking the two if possible, but we could get Walcott and I am very happy we got him,” he said.