Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale celebrates his third goal against Aston Villa during their English Premier League soccer match in Birmingham

Happy Boxing Day, Gareth Bale! Enjoy your hat trick

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He’s 23 years old, the most unstoppable force in the Premier League, and after today’s performance at Villa Park, Gareth Bale is only one goal off his career high. Last year, the Wales international buried 10 for Spurs. Sixteen games into his Premer League season, Bale’s already scored nine times, putting him on pace for a 20-goal season.

The output also put Tottenham in fourth place in the Premier League, their 4-0 win over Aston Villa giving Spurs 33 points through 19 rounds.

Bale is the most dynamic player in the Premier League, the type of title you give somebody when you’re too finely parsing the league’s best players. His combination of speed, size and strength is unmatched among the league’s attacking talents, and as one of the Premiership’s few wide stars, he always has the space to show it.

MORE: Hart, Mancini struggles on display in Sunderland

But given his ability to tear into opponents is now being matched by some consistent, elite goal scoring, how long do we have to wait until we talk about Gareth Bale as the best player in England?

At least one more week, because for now, it’s time to enjoy the show Bale put on at Villa Park.

In a culture where Boxing Day soccer carries a lot sentiment, Bale gave a performance few Spurs fans will ever forget. That it was his first Premier League hat trick means he’s unlikely to forget it, either.

Bale’s first provided the insurance for Jermain Defoe’s opener, his touch putting him behind the Villa defense, catching Brad Guzan out of position (highlight, below). The second saw an Aaron Lennon square ball find Bale with far too much room in the middle of the area, his lower-right corner finish leaving Guzan flat-footed. In the 84th minute, Bale completed his hat trick, finishing a Gylfi Sigurdsson pass into the top of goal before being subbed off.

With the win, Spurs move into fourth place, tiebreakers allowing them to sit on top of Everton and West Bromwich Albion.

Villa, though they’ve been outscored 0-12 over the last four days, stay in 16th place but now have the worst goal difference in the Premier League: -21.

Transfer rumor roundup: Mahrez “seduced” by Arsenal, Witsel pursued

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06:  Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium on February 6, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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The transfer mill has been churning out big names moves a-plenty this week as teams gear up for their seasons.

Rumors are coming fast and furious still, and Saturday is no exception.

[ MORE: Kolo to Celtic ]

Iceland’s run to the EURO quarterfinals may’ve opened a lot of eyes, but many already knew about Gylfi Sigurdsson. The Swansea man left for and returned from Spurs, but now could be on the move again.

The Express says Everton are willing to spend close to $33 million to lure Sigurdsson to Goodison Park. How wild have transfer fees gone in recent years? Brexit deflation aside, Sigurdsson’s moves to Swansea and Spurs cost between $9-12 million.


Eurosport reports that Arsenal is ready to go big in pursuit of Leicester City maestro Riyad Mahrez.

The Algerian international is said to have been “seduced” by the Gunners and wants to make a move to North London. The fee would be approximately $55 million, and take another instrumental part of the Foxes’ PL title run from the East Midlands.


The Sun claims that four omissions from Tottenham’s recent travel list mean all are destined to be sold by Mauricio Pochettino. Clinton N'Jie, Alex Pritchard, Nabil Bentaleb and Federico Fazio are ready for your club’s bid.

Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United - Capital One Cup Quarter-Final


Zenit Saint Petersburg coach Mircea Lucescu told Calciomercato that there are three offers in for Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel, one in the Premier League and two in Serie A. Witsel has been linked with Everton, Liverpool and Roma this summer.

WATCH: Juventus’ Blanco scores from just inside Melbourne’s half

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 23:  Carlos Blanco Moreno of Juventus celebrates his second half goal during the 2016 International Champions Cup Australia match between Melbourne Victory FC and Juventus FC at Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 23, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Pat Scala/Getty Images)
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Young Spanish center back Carlos Blanco Moreno cranked home a long distance goal in Saturday’s International Champions Cup match between Juventus and Melbourne Victory.

[ MORE: Kolo to Celtic ]

Ex-Barcelona man Blanco, 20, brought down a substandard clearance from Melbourne goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas, took a touch, and blasted a shot over the 24-year-old Australian backstop.

Melbourne would draw level before going on to win the match in penalty kicks, but this was the highlight of the match.

Kolo Toure undergoing medical ahead of Rodgers reunion at Celtic

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 13:  Kolo Toure of Liverpool talks during the Liverpool UEFA Europa League Cup Final Media Day at Melwood Training Ground on May 13, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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Sky Sports reports that longtime Liverpool defender Kolo Toure has found a home under his former manager.

The 35-year-old center back was released by the Reds this summer, and is undergoing a medical ahead of joining Brendan Rodgers at Celtic.

[ MORE: Sunderland hires Moyes ]

Toure joined Liverpool from Manchester City in 2013, one year after Rodgers took the helm at Anfield.

The move would be Celtic’s second signing under Rodgers, as the Glasgow side added French forward Moussa Dembele from Fulham earlier this summer.

Report: Juve buys Higuain for $103m, tipped as precursor to Pogba sale

NAPLES, ITALY - JANUARY 31:  Gonzalo Higuain (R) and MArek Hamsik of Napoli celebrate the equalizing goal during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and Empoli FC at Stadio San Paolo on January 31, 2016 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)
Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images
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It’s a move that screams its own headlines, yet is being tipped as a precursor to a larger one.

According to Sky Sports, Juventus has purchased Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli for an incredible $103 million, equaling the second-highest transfer fee in football history (Cristiano Ronaldo).

Higuain is 28 years old, making the fee even harder to fathom despite his status as the reigning Serie A goal leader. His 36 goals in 35 matches was by far his best campaign, though he’s always been a productive striker.

[ MORE: Sunderland hires Moyes ]

Moreover, the massive money only fuels the fire that Juventus is possibly selling Paul Pogba to Manchester United or Real Madrid for what will certainly be a world record fee, eclipsing the $110 million Real paid for Gareth Bale in 2013.

Higuain was also tipped for a move to Arsenal, but that always seemed improbable given the reported fees and Arsene Wenger‘s preference for younger players.

It’s a huge risk for Juventus, even given the probability of Pogba money arriving in Turin.