Why the pursuit of Gareth Bale makes no sense for Tottenham

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Lewis Ambrose

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There is “optimism on all sides” that Gareth Bale will be a Tottenham player again, David Ornstein tweeted on Wednesday morning.

But has anybody stopped to think if this would be a good idea?

Even just 50% of his £600,000-a-week Madrid wage will make him the highest-paid player at Tottenham. More than Harry Kane, more than Son Heung-min, more than Hugo Lloris.

And there’s no way to be sure what level he’s still capable of producing. And that’s if he stays fit. When the 31-year-old did used to play regularly for Madrid, he was continuously beset by injury.

Bale managed just two goals and two assists in his 12 LaLiga starts last season as he fell further and further out of favour under Zinedine Zidane. It’s now four years since he managed more than two assists in a league season. It’s five years since he managed more than 21 league starts.

His last outstanding campaign came in 2017/18, his last season alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.

Maybe that will change with a return to north London but he’s also now a 31-year-old who hasn’t played regularly football for a long time.

The fire in Bale’s belly has been entirely distinguished, other than when he has a Wales shirt on.

And even then, he is no longer the incredible athlete that swapped White Hart Lane for the Bernabéu and, at this point in his career, could turn out to be a very expensive luxury to have.

A luxury that can decide the odd game still, yes, but one who will likely be a passenger in the weeks he doesn’t fire an effort into the top corner.

That’s without considering the actual terms of the deal, with reports on Tuesday suggesting Dele Alli could move the other way in a 12-month swap.

Mourinho and Alli clearly aren’t the best of pals but the England midfielder is still just 24 and already has 50 Premier League goals to his name. Alli has everything (including time) to turn things around and become an England regular again, as well as a Tottenham legend.

And he wouldn’t be the only player Spurs could regret hindering. With Kane and Son guaranteed their starting places, Steven Bergwijn would fall down the pecking order just half a season after arriving. The Dutchman, 22, has shown glimpses of his talent already but needs to play regularly at his age  to fulfil his potential.

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Bale is a bonafide Tottenham hero but his return will lead to one top season at most. Striking a deal which would see Spurs pay £12m in wages, for just less than a season of a player who hasn’t played regularly in years is risky. Casting Alli and Bergwijn aside in the process would be madness.

Bale’s potential return is likely to simply rekindle better memories of a player that no longer exists, as Wayne Rooney’s one-season return to Everton did just a couple of years ago. Is it remotely worth it?

The Athletic insist this is a deal being driven by Daniel Levy, not by Mourinho.

The same Levy who signed off on the Amazon Prime documentary. Who was desperate to woo NFL officials to play at Tottenham’s new stadium. Who appointed Mourinho, a coach way past his best, to replace the best manager  in the club’s modern history just months after a Champions League final.

And now, Levy who brought Bale home after six years as a Galáctico?

It looks more and more like the chairman is obsessed with Tottenham’s image than actual performances. Like he’s too busy creating the impression he runs a big, serious, competitive club, than ensuring Spurs are one.

Eventually, it’s going to leave them too far adrift to catch up.