Let’s set the scene.
In seven seasons at Real Madrid, Gareth Bale has been part of four Champions League winning sides- scoring against Atletico Madrid in 2014, slotting his penalty against the same opponents two years later and netting a memorable brace against Liverpool 2018.
He’s been part of two La Liga winning campaigns, won three FIFA Club World Cups, two UEFA Super Cups, one Spanish Super Cup and one Copa del Rey, in which he scored the decisive goal after putting Barcelona centre-back Marc Bartra through a blender.
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The 31-year-old has scored 105 goals in 251 games at Madrid, despite sharing the stage with Cristiano Ronaldo for five of those seven seasons. By sharing the stage we obviously mean passing to Ronaldo at any given opportunity.
You would think, therefore, that news of Bale’s departure from Madrid to re-join Spurs on loan would be met with jubilation in north London and despair in the Spanish capital.
Clearly that’s not the case for either. Bale takes home a reported £600,000-a-week, which has proved prohibitive for any club looking to remove the Welshman from what has become something of a nightmare under Zinedine Zidane.
Even with Madrid paying half of that, setting £300,000-a-week aside for a player who’s clocked up 30 league appearances just once since 2014 is a major risk, and one that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy isn’t prone to taking under normal circumstances.
But the chance to bring arguably Spurs’ greatest ever modern player home looks to have proved too tempting for Levy to resist. So, presuming Bale does return to north London, should you be looking to get him in your Dream Team?
Recent history hasn’t been kind to Bale. He made 16 league appearances last season, registering two goals and two assists in 1,092 minutes of La Liga football. Were he included on Dream Team, Bale would have scored 39 points- the same as Paulo Gazzaniga and Seamus Coleman, and one fewer than Fernandinho and Southampton’s Michael Obafemi. Hardly elite company.
Bale clocked up a relatively measly eight 7+ WhoScored ratings in all competitions, hampering his efforts with a red card against Villarreal in just the third game of the season. That game would prove to be Bale’s last goalscoring outing in La Liga, meaning he’s without a league goal in more than a year.
But that’s not to write the Welshman off entirely. Bale’s La Liga numbers last season need to be viewed through the prism of a tumultuous relationship with Zidane. It’s far too simplistic to put his recent troubles down to injury issues.
Bale completed the full 90 minutes for Wales at the start of September, captaining Ryan Giggs’ side to a 1-0 win against Bulgaria in what was his 85th international cap. You get the sense that with a consistent run in a side in which he’s valued Bale still has plenty to offer, especially to a misfiring Spurs attack in desperate need of goals.
Unlike the wage packet he takes home, Bale’s Dream Team price of £5.5m is not exorbitant. Sure, he’d represent a gamble, but there’s nothing more rewarding in the Dream Team Season game then taking a risk on a player and watching their value soar from week to week.
Jose Mourinho has manufactured redemptive seasons out of disregarded players in the past, most notably from Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto’o at Inter Milan- a duo deemed no longer needed at Madrid and Barcelona respectively the previous season.
Mourinho will no doubt be relishing getting his hands on a player who was considered a world-class talent in the not-so-distant past. The question is, will you be doing the same?
Bale or no Bale, you can pick your Dream Team now.