When the fourth official’s board of directors revealed the number nine for number 23, it was a surprise.
There were 12 minutes left of the game, but Gareth Bale was so rare in the Premier League that many fans could have been forgiven for a double inclusion.
For six years, Spurs supporters enjoyed the prospect of Bale returning to the place where he was home by 2013.
Fans finally got their wish this summer, but Bale’s homecoming has turned into some kind of wet detonator.
Bale has made 14 appearances for Spurs this season, but only five of those have made it to the Premier League, and crucially, only one was a start.
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Most of his football has made it into the cups and the Europa League.
With Spurs 3-1 against Liverpool, Bale stepped on the field but couldn’t do anything to wake the team when the game resulted in a loss.
So what went wrong?
It was a topic that later came up for debate among BT Sport experts.
Here is what they said …
Jermaine Jenas: “It’s difficult from our point of view because we speculate about how he feels. Is the hunger from outside still there?
“That’s a question I ask when he’s on the field. Are his legs still there at this rapid pace? Is he too worried about all the injuries he’s accumulated over the years? All of these Things will be a factor. “
“But I honestly felt that he wanted to fly with Wales with the euro at the end of the year, full of confidence and I thought it would have been a great dynamic.” he got up and got it going this year, but maybe sitting on the bench that he did for 10 minutes made him question it. “
Peter Crouch: “You’re worried about him, aren’t you? I think he came here and there were a lot of expectations but I don’t know what happened, maybe he won’t do it in training. Mourinho, much like Ndombele – he didn’t trust him last season – I don’t think he trusts Bale in the big games. He plays him in the European and FA Cup games, but he barely had a run in the league. He left with the top three which were fantastic but it’s so late to put it on and Vinicius I’m not sure why. ”
Gareth Bale is back in Tottenham!
Seven years after leaving the club for what was then a world record fee, Bale is back in North London and signs a loan deal with Spurs.
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Rio Ferdinand: “We were all so excited, I think everyone was when you hear Bale come into the Premier League, thank god he’s coming back, let’s see what he has. What he did on the biggest stages for Real Madrid in the Champions League final and got his hands on this trophy so many times that you think he’s going to bring all that experience back here, it just didn’t happen.
“It’s so disappointing. I think we’ll have to wait until he finally comes back to Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho opens up. I think he has to do some big things.”