It would not be a transfer window at Tottenham Hotspur if the name Gareth Bale was not linked with a return to the north London club.
On Wednesday, the Welshman confirmed his exit from Real Madrid after nine years with a heartfelt farewell statement and this summer the 32-year-old will be a free agent as he decides what comes next in a glittering career that has brought him five Champions League winner’s medals, three La Liga titles and four FIFA Club World Cup trophies among many other pieces of silverware.
Bale left Tottenham for Madrid in 2013 but returned last season on loan and contributed 16 goals and three assists in 34 appearances back in a Spurs shirt, despite having a couple of injuries and limited Premier League starts in the first half of the season under then head coach Jose Mourinho.
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The winger’s future is set to be decided by what happens in Wales’ World Cup qualifying play-off against either Scotland or Ukraine this coming Sunday. Should Wales reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958 in what manager Robert Page has described as the “biggest game in Welsh history”, then Bale will want to play in that winter tournament and will need club football in order to do so. If Wales do not make it through, then he will reportedly make a decision over whether to bring his trophy-laden playing career to an end.
Many Spurs supporters have been wondering whether, if Wales are successful on Sunday, Bale could return for a nostalgic third spell in north London and get to play in front of full stadiums, having returned previously during the pandemic when the fans were not allowed inside grounds for much of the campaign.
football.london understands that while Tottenham’s managing director of football Fabio Paratici is a big fan of Bale there is a feeling both within the Welshman’s camp and inside Spurs that another return to the club is unlikely at this point.
The Wales international played just 290 minutes of football this season for Real Madrid. He started the club’s first three games in La Liga in August, playing roughly an hour in each, but then knee, calf and back injuries, combined with a bout of Covid, ensured he did not play another match until mid-February and then his only other league minutes – 16 of them – came from the bench against Getafe in April before more back problems saw off the remainder of his league season.
In the Champions League, Bale played three minutes against PSG and four minutes against Chelsea to make it just seven appearances in the campaign for the Spanish giants as his contract wound down. There is a belief that with his injury issues, the physical demands Antonio Conte puts on his players would be too much at this stage of Bale’s career, with the Italian demanding constant pressing from his attacking players and his training sessions are among the most gruelling in the game.
Bale will turn 33 next month and while Spurs did sign a 33-year-old in Ivan Perisic this week, the Croatian has steered clear of injuries on the whole in his career, missing just 40 matches through injury across his entire 14-year career, an average of 2.8 games missed a season.
While a Bale return would be a hit emotionally, nostalgically and from a marketing point of view for Tottenham, and he did contribute some important goals on his last return, he and the club staff had to manage his training and pitch time carefully during that loan spell and under Conte the physical demands would likely be too much.
There is a growing belief that if Bale does continue his playing career then his final club might well provide a different kind of homecoming for him, with the Welshman tipped to play for his hometown side Cardiff City. The winger owns a home near the city and is understood to like the idea of playing just one season for the Championship side before he hangs up his boots.
Source by Football London