There was expectation when Gareth Bale returned to the Premier League this season. Spurs fans, excited by the return of their former hero, would have hoped to see an instant impact from a player who set English football alight before his then-world record transfer to Real Madrid. Others may have anticipated a slow start for a once world-class player, who's career had been fizzling out in recent years at the Santiago Bernabéu.
The latter proved to be more accurate, as Bale struggled for fitness and game time under Jose Mourinho during the first half of the season, and made next to no impact in the league. In recent months however, not before some thinly veiled public criticism from the Spurs manager, Bale has looked much sharper and is making an impact up front, linking up nicely with Harry Kane.
This has led to speculation on Bale's future as his loan spell is due to conclude at the end of this season, and recent comments from Bale suggest that he is planning to return to Madrid and see out the final year of his contract after he captains Wales to the Euros.
🤔 “Why are Spurs being used as some sort of training facility for you to get your career back on track?”
😞 “We gave him a hero homecoming. But half of the season he’s not been up for it.”
Craig Mitch wasn’t happy with Gareth Bale’s quotes about leaving #THFC pic.twitter.com/CGuuTenIEH
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) March 27, 2021
Former Spurs player Jamie O'Hara has been critical of Bale's comments, suggesting that Tottenham and their supporters have a right to feel aggrieved that the Welshman's focus is seemingly on maintaining fitness ahead of the Euros rather than potentially extending his future with the North London club.
Speaking on talkSport, O'Hara wasn't shy in calling out his former Spurs teammate.
As players we’ve all said things in press conferences and thought, ‘I probably shouldn’t have said that…’ I don’t think he’s meaning to be disrespectful for Spurs and Spurs fans, because he’s done so well there over the years… but it was disrespectful. As Spurs fans we all loved him. In terms of what he’s done for Spurs, you can’t take away the fact he was THE GUY for Spurs for a while, he was amazing. But has he tarnished his legacy?
I’ve played with Gareth and I’ve always said this, he had a quiet arrogance about him. He believed in his own ability, he knew where he wanted to be. He didn’t go out with the lads or really mix with them too much, but he had a quiet arrogance over where he wanted to go as a football player. But I feel like when you start to come to the back-end of your career and you start going down, you’ve got to humble yourself a little bit and get in the real world, because you can tarnish a lot of the great things that you’ve done by saying something like he did.
It has been a rocky season from a PR perspective for Bale, given the apparent struggles with Jose Mourinho and now his latest comments about his Madrid future potentially causing a backlash at Tottenham. But given that he is contracted to Real Madrid for another season, it seems as though any hopes that Tottenham supporters may have had of keeping Bale next season may be dwindling.