Well, Spurs fans, it’s happening. After seven years, Gareth Bale is coming home.
Bale was a superstar at the Lilywhites, scoring 55 goals and winning PFA Player of the Year on two separate occasions. His final season in the Premier League earned him a then-world record transfer to Real Madrid.
The Welshman has endured a tough few years at Real Madrid. After impressing in his first few years, he became increasingly unpopular with the fans. To be fair, saying that he prefers the golf course over the Bernabeu probably didn’t help.
He may not be the scintillating sensation that left White Hart Lane in 2013, but he still has plenty to offer. Of course, we are only two years removed from his brace in the Champions League final against Liverpool. If Jose Mourinho can get something out of the 31-year-old, then Tottenham could have one of the most feared frontlines in the league.
The Welshman’s best days at Los Blancos often came when he was deployed on the right of the front three, and this seems like his most likely position for the coming campaign.
The pace of Bale and Heung-min Son on the wings would be a threat to any side, and Harry Kane’s link up play and goalscoring prowess could complete an incredible trio. If Mourinho can get the best out of these three, then Spurs could arguably have the best attack in the league.
Similarly, Mourinho could continue to use the 4-2-3-1 formation that he deployed in the opening day defeat vs Everton. In this case, Bale and Son would drop a bit deeper, and be accompanied by another attacking midfielder as part of a three. With Dele Alli, Giovani Lo Celso, Erik Lamela, and Lucas Moura all able to play that role, this could be a system that we see regularly from the north Londoners.
Former boss Mauricio Pochettino often used to experiment with two up front, and Bale could be the perfect man to partner Kane.
The England captain likes to drop deep to receive the ball. This could leave space in behind for Bale to capitalise on. And, with Kane’s ability to pick a pass, the two could form a deadly pairing.
Alternatively, the Wales international’s pace could encourage teams to sit deeper, therefore leaving more space in midfield for the more technically gifted players to shine.
The former Southampton man has proven many times in the past that he can score goals, netting 198 times in all competitions throughout his career.
One of the biggest concerns for the Lilywhites in recent years has been Harry Kane’s injury record. The former Norwich City loanee has had his last few seasons blighted by injuries – most recently suffering a torn hamstring against Southampton in January.
Son and Moura have often been the ones to fill in during Kane’s absence, and now it could be Bale’s chance to step up to the plate. The 31-year-old has played centrally many times throughout his career, often being used through the middle by Andre Villas-Boas in his final season at White Hart Lane.
Given his superior physical qualities, Bale seems like a more natural fit for the striker role than Spurs’ other wingers.
While Son has the left side pretty much nailed down, whoever plays on the right is very much up for debate, with Moura and January recruit Steven Bergwijn both competing for a starting spot.
While he may not have played there for a few years, Bale spent the majority of his career in English football playing on the left flank.
A return to his days as a left sided full-back are looking highly unlikely (although you never really know with Mourinho), but should Son be sidelined for whatever reason, then Bale could deputise at the left-wing spot.
In this role, the pacy forward would play as a more traditional winger, bursting down the left and swinging crosses in. With Kane’s impressive aerial ability, this could work to great effect.
Furthermore, the Welshman has shown in the past just how devastating he can be on the left. Just ask Maicon.