By Andrew Warshaw
September 16 – Never go back is an old football adage. But in what would be an audacious verging on sensational swoop, Tottenham Hotspur are reportedly in talks with Real Madrid about an on-loan re-signing of Gareth Bale, whom they sold to the Spanish giants for a then world record transfer fee all of seven years ago.
Bale made more than 200 appearances for the English Premier League club between 2007 and 2013 before moving to Real for almost €100 million. He has gone on to win an array of major honours, including four Champions League titles, while Spurs have won nothing during the same period.
So why take what looks on paper like a retrograde step back to London?
Firstly because he has always been a hero with the Spurs fans but more significantly because has endured a fractious, at times torrid, relationship with Real boss Zinedine Zidane, sitting on the sidelines for long periods and suffering his worst season at the Spanish club in 2019-20 with only three goals in all competitions .
“Gareth still loves Spurs,” his agent Jonathan Barnett told the BBC. “We are talking. It’s where he wants to be.”
Bale, now 31, was set to make a lucrative move to the Chinese Super League last year before the transfer was scuppered when Real insisted on a transfer fee rather than terminate his contract. Although injuries would be a concern for Spurs, Bale is reported to have recorded the best results in fitness tests conducted recently by Madrid’s medical staff.
If the move does take place, Real are expected to pay a large chunk of Bale’s mountainous salary which would be far out of Tottenham’s reach given he still has two years left on his contract. It would also represent a snub to Manchester United who, according to some reports, appeared in pole position to grab the Welsh international although other reports said they were not interested.
Finally, it would be something of a coup for Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho who has long been an admirer of Bale. Spurs looked woefully short of creativity in a disjointed and laborious opening-day Premier League defeat to Everton last weekend and both Mourinho and Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy need to convince the Spurs fans that the team is not going backwards after the upward curve achieved during the stellar reign of Mauricio Pochettino.
A return to a club which was his home for six seasons could prove an ideal scenario for Bale to re-ignite his career. Just like Mourinho, he has a point to prove.
“I’m still motivated to play football,” he said earlier this month. “I’m 31 but I’m in great shape still and I feel I’ve got a lot to give.”
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