It wasn’t until the final 20 minutes when Tottenham fans finally got the one thing they had waited years to see.
Following his big-money departure to Real Madrid in September 2013, Spurs supporters had prayed each summer that Gareth Bale would make a sensational return to the club.
A dream many believed would never come to fruition due to his early success in the Spanish capital, their wish was finally granted seven years on from his departure as Daniel Levy agreed on a season-long loan deal for the 31-year-old in September.
Unable to play in front of a crowd at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium due to the coronavirus pandemic seeing the doors remain shut, Wednesday evening saw 10,000 take their seats inside the ground for the home game against Aston Villa.
Interim head coach Ryan Mason had revealed ahead of the game that there was a “question mark” over the player’s fitness after playing 89 minutes in Sunday’s 2-0 victory over Wolves, and, as expected, Bale was named on the bench for the clash in N17.
Needing someone to help spark the game into life with Spurs doing very little to trouble the visitors after Steven Bergwijn’s wonderful opener, it wasn’t until the 72nd minute when Mason rolled the dice with his former teammate replacing the Dutchman in the side.
His introduction was met by a huge cheer but he, unfortunately, couldn’t help his team level things up as they fell to a poor 2-1 defeat.
Bale’s numbers may look good on the eye after 14 goals and three assists from 33 games in all competitions, yet in his 19 league appearances, he has only started ten of those.
Clearly not capable of playing in quick succession on a consistent basis due to the number of injuries he sustained during his time at Los Blancos, Spurs have a huge decision to make over the player in the summer.
football.london understands that Tottenham have the first option to bring Bale back to the club next season on the same terms as they have him now, roughly 40 per cent of his huge salary at Real Madrid.
Perhaps a no-brainer if he can produce performances like he did against Burnley, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United week in, week out, the concerns over his fitness and the fact he struggles to play regularly when there are games every few days means he doesn’t exactly represent value for money.
Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of the Aston Villa encounter, Mason revealed that Bale told him it was “best for him and his body” not to start on Wednesday evening.
“Gareth played the best part of 90 minutes at the weekend, the most he’s played all season in the Premier League,” he explained.
“Gareth is an experienced man and he knows his body. We spoke and he felt it was best for him and his body not to start today. That’s all there is.
“The players who have come in are ready to come in, and there’s also players on the bench who have been training well and are ready also.”
Potentially on course to miss out on Europe altogether with a number of teams fighting it out for a European place on the final day of the season, it is a massive summer for the club as they look to get back on track.
Amid reports that Harry Kane has asked for a move away in his quest to win silverware, Tottenham are going to need to make some key changes to freshen up their squad if they are to challenge towards the top once again after two hugely disappointing seasons.
That may in turn mean that Levy and the club’s next manager believe that the money on re-signing Bale for another year could be better utilised elsewhere as they look to plan for the long-term future.
With question marks over where exactly Bale will be playing his football next season anyway, Mason’s pre-match comments ahead of such a crucial game in regards to Tottenham’s European hopes can make Levy’s decision a little bit easier.
Needing players to be available every single game in what will be such a key campaign for the club, Bale’s 18-minute cameo in the defeat against Aston Villa may, in turn, prove to be his final game in a Tottenham shirt in front of the fans.
Waiting eight months to see him back out on the pitch in N17, time will tell if fans get to see him play on home soil once again come August.
Source by Football London