Seven years ago, one of my childhood heroes Gareth Bale left my beloved Tottenham Hotspur to join Real Madrid for a then-world record €100m. It was a move that hurt Spurs fans even though we did understand his desire to move on but, the dream of Bale one day returning to Tottenham has never left since the day he left.
From his volley against Stoke, his hat-trick at the San Siro, and his PFA award-winning 2012-13 Premier League season, Gareth Bale had already cemented his place in Spurs' history. His return feels like a dream, with a return ever happening appearing unrealistic even last week! But will Bale still be a success at Spurs? Or are we clinging onto our sentiment to the player's former self? I believe Gareth Bale's second spell at Tottenham will be a resounding success, and I'm here to explain why.
Last weekend, Harry Kane and Heung Min Son showed exactly why they are one of the most lethal partnerships in Premier League history, with more goals and assists per 90 minutes than any Premier League duo in history - Kane provided Son with 4 assists and even scored one of his own!
What is clear for all to see is that Lucas Moura is a weak link in the Tottenham attack. Despite his Ajax heroics, Moura realistically should only be a squad player at a club that wants to be pushing for titles and top four minimum. Even if you're getting 70% of the old Gareth Bale, that's an instant upgrade on Lucas Moura.
Bale can play anywhere along with the front three, with most of his first-spell at the club being spent on the left-wing, before being moved into a central attacking midfield role in his final season. More recently, he has spent his 7 years at Real Madrid playing in the right-wing position. Bale's flexibility across the front three is enticing for Spurs fans and Mourinho alike.
Bale's flexibility across the front three is enticing for Spurs fans and Mourinho alike.
The pace of Bale and Son and the passing ability of Kane mean that Spurs can drop Kane a little deeper, with Bale and Son running past Kane spreading the defence and providing width on the pitch. Much like Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool side. This is a system that I expect Spurs to play and with a fully committed Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso, and Hojberg trio behind them in the midfield, Spurs look set to have a serious starting XI.
Since the 1990's Spurs have been lamented for being "too nice" and lacking the winners' mentality needed to push for football's biggest trophies. Daniel Levy's decision to sack Mauricio Pochettino and appoint Jose Mourinho as Tottenham manager was a shock, but the reasoning given has always been "Jose is a winner."
In the 'All or Nothing' Tottenham documentary, it puts great emphasis on how Mourinho wants his players to be "c*nts" and change that nice-guy persona that has surrounded the club over the last three decades. Every Mourinho signing since his arrival at Spurs has won trophies. Bergwijn won 3 league titles with PSV; Hojberg won 5 trophies at Bayern Munich; Joe Hart won Premier League's at Manchester City, and Sergio Reguilon won last seasons Europa League with Sevilla. The biggest winner of all Mourinho's signings? Gareth Bale.
Bale has won 13 trophies during his time at Real Madrid including 2 La Liga's and 4 Champions League's, scoring in two of those Champions League finals and famously scoring the winner in the 2014 Copa Del Rey final against Barcelona. Bale is a serial winner. In his first interview back at Spurs, he speaks of how he will add a winning mentality to the dressing room,
"I think by going to Madrid, winning trophies and going far with the national team, I feel like I have that winning mentality, how to win trophies.
“You don't realise until you are there, in those situations, in finals, and knowing how to deal with those situations, the nerves, the pressure, and that all comes with experience.
"I'll bring that to the dressing room, bring that belief that we can win a trophy, and the time to do that is this season, and not just one, to be fighting on every front possible. I want to bring that mentality back to Tottenham."
Bale left Tottenham for Madrid aged just 24, he's grown from a boy to a man and his winning mentality can catapult Tottenham from contenders to do-ers. Tottenham have the talent, can Bale and Mourinho bring the mentality?
It's no secret that Bale's spell at Real Madrid ended on a sour note and he hasn't performed to his capabilities over the last two seasons - leading to doubts as to whether he's still the same player, but one thing should be remembered - Bale is now at a club he loves.
"It was a fairly easy decision [...]. He had other choices but Tottenham is his love, he loves Tottenham and at the end of the day that's the one he wanted.Bale's agent Jonathan Barnett on his clients move to Tottenham
Zinedine Zidane and Gareth Bale's relationship has been tumultuous from the moment Zidane stepped in. It is evident over his two spells as Madrid manager that he doesn't rate Bale and has openly criticised Bale in the media numerous times - vilifying him in the Madrid press - namely Marca and AS, much to the frustration of Bale
Bale has responded to this criticism by openly mocking Madrid and winding up the media by continuing his obsession with golf. From an outsider, it would be easy to think Bale has lost his love for football, but this is not true.
Bale was booed by Madrid fans from the moment he arrived, and after 5 years, he realised he couldn't win them over and through frustration, started a war with Real Madrid. While going to war with the world's biggest football club wasn't Bale's smartest idea, he expressed frustrations that Madrid blocked him from leaving when he pushed for a move - while also vilifying him in the press.
It was important for Bale to go somewhere he's loved - no one loves him more than Spurs fans. This should reinvigorate Bale's passion for the game and give him the motivation he needs to play his best football and prove his doubters wrong. Barring injury, I see no way that Bale's return to Tottenham will be anything other than a success. It's difficult for a player to play his best football under a manager who doesn't rate him and fans that hate him.
Mourinho has openly tried to sign Bale on numerous occasions throughout his career and should provide Bale with the love and belief that he needs from his manager. When two egos's collide, it can be a fallout waiting to happen, but this will be a match made in heaven.
Tottenham have their Roy of the Rovers in Harry Kane and with Bale's return, they have the return of the prodigal son. For the first time in 7 years, Gareth Bale has something to prove, and I expect him to reinstate himself amongst the world's best - back at the club he loves.