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Gareth Bale Tottenham Legacy at Risk of Becoming Tarnished

The transfer of Gareth Bale back to Tottenham Hotspur sounded like a romantic fairy tale. Instead, his return to north London has been more like a horror movie.

On loan from Real Madrid, the Wales international has barely made an impact on a Spurs side that are now 14 points behind Premier League leaders, Manchester City, despite leading the pile in early December.

Although Tottenham have reached the Carabao Cup final, are through to the fifth round of the FA Cup and are still competing in the Europa League, Bale’s impact to the team has been largely insignificant.

Gareth Bale Tottenham Legacy at Risk of Becoming Tainted

Tottenham Legacy Quickly Diminishing

There is no doubt about it, Gareth Bale will forever be a Tottenham legend. Having come through the famous Southampton academy, Bale joined Spurs after just one full season with the Saints.

During his time on the south coast, left-back Bale scored five and provided 12 assists as the Saints reached the Championship play-off final, losing out to eventual winners Derby County in the semi-final.

Southampton may have missed the opportunity to play Premier League football but Bale didn’t after Tottenham signed the 18-year-old for an initial £5 million. His first couple of seasons at Spurs were affected by injuries, but the youngster was beginning to show his capabilities.

Bale Taking on the Best

By the 2009/10 season – his third at the club – Bale and Tottenham started to compete with the best. Spurs ended the season in fourth, qualifying for their first-ever Champions League campaign, and also reached the FA Cup semi-final before losing to Portsmouth. Bale also scored the winner in a north London derby against rivals Arsenal.

Bale then lit up the European stage. Four assists in a 4-0 win over Young Boys and a sensational San Siro hat-trick against Inter Milan showed the world of his capabilities. The performance in Milan will go down as one of his greatest in a Tottenham shirt, and although Spurs lost 4-3, Bale was instrumental in the second leg, laying on two assists in a 3-1 win.

Goals and assists were now a consistent part of his game as he had moved further up the field. The following season, Bale scored 13 goals and laid on 17 assists from 42 appearances in all competitions as Tottenham finished fourth, before scoring 26 goals and adding 15 assists from 44 appearances in his final season at White Hart Lane.

Move Away

As a result, a move away from Tottenham always seemed likely. In 2013, Bale left Spurs and joined La Liga giants Real Madrid for a then-world record £85 million.

251 appearances, 105 goals, 68 assists, two La Liga’s, one Copa del Rey, one Supercopa de España, four Champions League’s, two Super Cup’s and three Club World Cup’s later, Bale has become one of the worlds best.

But despite all of his accolades, Bale’s performances slowly started to deteriorate. Whether through injuries, lack of ambition or poor form, Bale struggled to replicate the actions that led to a move to Madrid.

Bale Back to Tottenham

A return to Tottenham ticked all the boxes for all the parties involved, especially Bale. The Wales international would work under Jose Mourinho and together, would aim for more success at Spurs.

However, Bale has managed just 15 appearances for Tottenham this season, scoring four goals. Not only is the lack of appearances an issue, but the 31-year-old has completed 90 minutes just once and been in the starting 11 ten times, with the rest of his outings coming as a substitute. In eight games, Bale has been an unused substitute and has even failed to make the matchday squad on two separate occasions, except when injured.

Mourinho is a world-class manager and Bale is a world-class player, but the duo aren’t operating. Playing in a front three alongside Harry Kane and Son Heung-min should provide the Portuguese with arguably the best front three he has managed during his career. Instead, Bale has been omitted as Mourinho looks to other suitors.

Clearly, Bale isn’t the same player that Tottenham sold to Real Madrid eight years ago. Injuries have hampered his career and that blistering pace he once showed has all but gone. Also, his lack of desire for the game has become apparent, with his issues in Spain clearly still affecting him upon his return to England.

The title challenge is over but supporters and Bale himself will be hoping for more of an impact in the cup competitions. Spurs continue their FA Cup run with a trip to Everton on Wednesday evening, with Bale looking for some more game time and some more consistent performances.

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