Gareth Bale is no longer the player he was and Tottenham will never see again the player once of before, according to Darren Bent.
The 31-year-old is back at Spurs on a season-long loan, ending a tumultuous period with Real Madrid. Steve McManaman reckons the deal can ‘take Tottenham to the next level’.
The Wales ace has won four Champions League titles and two La Liga crowns with Real. However, it became apparent that manager Zinedine Zidane no longer sees him as a long-term option.
Having flirted with leaving on a couple of occasions, the former Southampton man moved to north London in September. He was welcomed with open arms having made 203 appearances for the club prior to joining Real.
However, the move back to Spurs is yet to really work out. Bale has just one goal across seven appearances totally just 369 minutes. He spent both of their last two matches – against Man City and Chelsea – sat on the bench.
As such, Bent thinks Bale is already running out of time to prove his worth to Tottenham.
“It’s a gradual process but at the same time it’s a year loan,” Bent told talkSPORT. “For me, the question you’ve got to ask is how long is Jose Mourinho prepared to give him before he goes ‘this is not working’.
“All the talk has been about [Heung-min] Son and [Harry] Kane being superb. But when they get Bale back, when Bale gets back to himself, Bale this and Bale that. But right now he’s nowhere near the Bale we can remember.
“He’s not played consistently for about three years and he’s had big injuries as well. That Bale may never come back.”
Bent admits Tottenham will already be thinking about their long-term plan for Bale. And he reckons Spurs may decide that the winger is simply not worth the salary he commands.
“Do you think there’s a point in the season where he could become a distraction? They have to make a decision,” he added. “It’s a year loan and if it continues like this what do Spurs do? Send him back to Madrid or keep him?
“So for me how long are they going to give him? And how long are the fans going to give him before they go ‘listen, we can’t keep waiting on him to come back’. [Steven] Bergwijn needs to be playing and Lucas Moura needs to be playing.
“It’s kind of a strange one, but at the minute the signs don’t look great.”
Spanish paper claims Real were right over Bale
Bale’s struggles since his return to Tottenham have also drawn plenty of column inches in the Spanish media.
One such paper, AS, has closely detailed his inability to command a regular shirt at Spurs.
Revelling somewhat in his struggles, they write that the ‘return of the prodigal son’ is not proving to be as positive as his ‘landing smiles’ suggested it would be.
In the quotes, transcribed by Sport Witness, they state the ‘puzzle does not quite fit’ and when things have ‘gotten serious’ Jose Mourinho has ‘elected to go with fresher options’ than the Welshman.
While they admit there is currently no discontent from anyone at Tottenham, they suggest Bale has ‘entered a recession’.
They conclude that the LaLiga champions continue to monitor the situation and await to see if Spurs ‘facilitate a possible future sale’ .