The Welshman could be making an emotional return to his former club, but what can a 31-year-old Bale offer to Jose Mourinho’s side?
Gareth Bale appears to be closing in on a sensational return to Tottenham Hotspur, seven years after he left for Real Madrid. The Welshman, now 31 years old, has fallen out of favour in the Spanish capital and his agent Jonathan Barnett has revealed that he believes a deal is possible.
“There’s a long way to go on some issues, but without doubt Gareth is closer to leaving Madrid than at any time in last seven years,” he said.
“The deal is complicated, but there’s reason to believe a deal is close and things could move very quickly if discussions continue to go well.”
Bale made his name as a world class player during a six-year stint with Spurs from 2007 to 2013, winning the PFA Players’ Player of the Year on two occasions. His time in North London came to an end when Real Madrid paid around €100 million for his services.
A lot has changed in the seven years since Gareth Bale’s last game for the club, when he scored a brilliant last minute winner against Sunderland, so what would his signing mean for Spurs?
Bale could be missing piece of Mourinho’s attack
Despite struggling to tie down a place during his last few years in Madrid the Welshman is still one of the world’s finest attacking talents on his day. He has contributed 126 goals (80 goals and 46 assists) in 171 La Liga appearances and boasts four Champions League winners’ medals.
He is usually deployed as a wide forward, an area in which Spurs seem fairly well-stocked with Son Heung-Min, Lucas Moura, Eric Lamela and Steven Bergwijn in those positions.
However Jose Mourinho is desperate to sign another striker before the transfer window ends, saying recently: “But I want to make it very clear that the club – if you want to call it the club or the structure above me – knows I need a striker and they also want a striker.
Mourinho tends to play with a physically powerful centre forward and at 1.85m and blessed with strength and pace, Bale could fit the bill. In recent years he has found himself deployed more centrally for the national team and he could be an option down the middle when Spurs captain Harry Kane is unavailable.
Genuine star presence
Tottenham Hotspur have changed a lot in recent seasons. They moved to a glamourous new stadium, hired a big-name manager in Mourinho and recently released a behind-the-scenes Amazon documentary. Spurs chairman Daniel Levy seems intent on building the club’s brand and the arrival of a global star like Bale would certainly help raise their profile.
The 31-year-old still has plenty to offer on the pitch but the Real Madrid man’s commercial potential will also appeal to a shrewd operator like Levy. His experience could also be invaluable as Spurs look to win their first piece of silverware since the 2008 League Cup, when an 18-year-old Bale missed the final due to injury.
Enormous wage demands
Bale’s days at Madrid have appeared numbered since Zidane announced in August that the forward “didn’t want to play” in the Champions League tie against Manchester City. However the Welshman still has two years remaining on a contract believed to be worth around €600,000 per week, a colossal amount of money even a club of Real’s size.
It has been reported in the Telegraph that the Spanish side are so desperate to reduce their wage bill that they would be willing to continue paying half of his salary for the remainder of his contract. Even if the North London club were only covering 50% of his earnings, the eighth-highest paid footballer in the world would still be their biggest wage expense.
Back in June Tottenham were forced to take out a £175 million government loan to help deal with loss of revenue due to the pandemic so Bale would represent a sizeable risk for the club. But if he can recapture some of the form from his first spell in North London, it will be an investment worth making.