COMMENT By Guy Giles
When Gareth Bale made his world-record move to Real Madrid in 2013, Spurs fans took solace in the knowledge that they had witnessed an all-time great grace the hallowed turf of White Hart Lane.
The Welsh wizard had provided them with countless moments of sheer brilliance in his time at the club, and helped them no end on their quest to join Europe’s elite.
Unlike Luka Modric’s acrimonious exit a year earlier, Bale left the club with grace, and most Spurs fans understood that the move was a fulfilment of a childhood dream for their star man.
Now, as Bale’s injury woes mount, rumours are beginning to gain pace to suggest that the Welshman is in line for a return to the Premier League, and a potential return to North London.
Real president Florentino Perez is reportedly at his wits end with Bale’s injury problems, and is looking to move the winger on during the summer window.
Some reports go on to suggest that Perez is hoping to use Bale as a pawn to bring Spurs’ new star Harry Kane to the Bernabeu.
While the Spurs faithful have been pining for the return of Bale since his departure five years ago, there are warning signs to suggest that a move for the player would be a terrible mistake.
Firstly, there is Bale’s horrific injury record in recent years.
The Welshman has missed an incredible 40 of Real’s last 60 matches. Most worrying in many ways is the fact that Bale has not been suffering a recurrence of one injury, but a series of differing problems.
Most recently, Bale has suffered a groin injury in training, just as he stepped up his recovery from a calf complaint that kept him out of eight matches.
Any move for Bale, whether a straight cash deal or as part-exchange for any number of Spurs’ current stars, would cost the club a blinding amount of money; Real are reportedly looking for a return on the £85million they paid in 2012.
To break the bank for the winger only to find him spend most of the time in the treatment room would be an absolute disaster for Daniel Levy and Mauricio Pochettino.
Then there is the issue of Spurs’ famous dressing room harmony.
What would the arrival of a player like Bale do to affect Pochettino’s happy charges?
Bale would undoubtedly be on a significantly higher wage than any of his teammates, with Daniel Levy’s rigid wage structure meaning Spurs pay lower wages than many of their rivals.
His return would also stunt the development of many of Spurs’ young stars, who are keen to make an impression at the top level of English football.
A move for Bale may suggest to some that Pochettino’s faith in youngsters is not so strong as first thought, and may mean that Spurs lose out on several of their young talents.
While still undoubtedly a world-class player, Bale is aging and crocked, and the message sent out by his return may not be a positive one in the dressing room.
An even bigger problem would surface if Spurs lost Harry Kane to Real.
While the arrival of Bale would soften such a blow, Spurs fans would surely prefer to keep Kane at any cost rather than see the Welshman return.
If Bale were to make the return to North London and Spurs did manage to keep hold of their stars, while also maintaining dressing room harmony, then the move would make sense.
But the vast number of unknown variables in the deal mean that such a move may throw up more questions than answers.
In any case, a move for Bale would require financial might that Spurs most likely do not have right now.
Mauricio Pochettino would therefore be best off looking elsewhere during the summer, trying to keep hold of the players that are helping him create a lasting dynasty in the white half of North London, and forgetting those that moved on to pastures new.
In other Tottenham Hotspur news, this midfielder is a doubt for the North London derby on Saturday.