Tottenham: Why fans shouldn’t dream of a Gareth Bale return

Real Madrid are reportedly willing to listen to offers and Spurs have first option... Is the unthinkable now possible?

Real Madrid have made no secret of their desire to land Kylian Mbappe from Monaco for a world record fee, with the 18-year-old and the club reportedly having a verbal agreement in place.

Mbappe wanted assurances over his playing time at the Santiago Bernabeu, however, which means one of Real Madrid’s famed front three –Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale- would be axed. It’s not going to be Ronaldo, and Benzema is integral to the Portuguese’s game as the target man up front, which leaves only one…

Zinedine Zidane has subsequently refused to confirm whether Bale will be staying in the Spanish capital this summer and it’s given rise to speculation over his future, with Manchester United the most interested party.

It’s worth noting, though, that Tottenham do still hold first option on Bale, allowing them to match any offer for 72 hours. This is nothing more than rumour, however, and dreaming of a Bale return is nothing more than that; a dream.

It takes just one tweet

“I’m hearing that Real Madrid are prepared to listen to offers for Gareth Bale.” The second part of the Secret Footballer’s tweet reads that “Tottenham have first option as part of his sale in 2013.”

Both of those statements are factual, yes, but they’re nothing more than that. At no point was it suggested that Spurs were actually set to bid for Bale, nor would they match another Premier League rival’s bid, especially when Daniel Levy was haggling over a million or so pounds in the sale of third choice ‘keeper Pau Lopez from Espanyol.

Such is Spurs' Twitter following, though, that the tweet caught on across the Twittersphere and by night’s end it had been manipulated into ‘Spurs are bidding for Bale’ or ‘Spurs set to rival Manchester United in Bale pursuit.’ You get the idea…

The unfathomable cost

Ian Wright was on BBC Radio 5 last night and this issue arose as a topic of conversation. In regards to Bale, Wright noted that he’d be “doing every single thing [he] can to see if [he] can get [Bale] back to Spurs,” if he were Daniel Levy.

“You say it’s not going to happen, but they have not signed anyone. Suppose they just went bang [and went for Bale.]”

Whilst the former Arsenal striker is absolutely correct and with just three sleeps before the start of the season Spurs are the only club in England yet to sign a player, it’s not as if Levy has been saving up to bring Bale back. This is why…

The Welshman only recently signed a new contract with Real Madrid to increase his wages to a mammoth £350k p/w until 2022. That’s more money per week than the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Danny Rose and Toby Alderweireld combined. In no sane reality are Spurs breaking their carefully constructed wage structure for Bale.


Not only is it a package outside of Levy’s comfort zone, it opens the door for other key players to demand parity.

‘What if Bale wants to take a pay cut to move back to London?’ Entertaining this idea leads to another insurmountable problem; the transfer fee. As mentioned, Bale’s deal runs through 2022 and Madrid, given their financial resources, are under no pressure to sell and conflicting reports suggest they don’t even want to.

Even with Bale’s injury record, Los Blancos would demand a fee in the region of £70 million, especially from a Premier League club awash with TV money. These numbers aren’t ones Spurs can handle.

Out of Pochettino’s player profile

In all the hysteria surrounding dreams of Bale’s return to north London, there’s another factor to consider: Would Mauricio Pochettino even want him?

In truth, probably yes. How could you not want a player of Bale’s quality?

He’s undoubtedly world-class, one of the best in the world, and he’s a direct, powerful runner, capable of taking the ball wide or cutting in and finding the goal, an option Spurs are lacking on their flanks. Moreover, Bale is versatile and could support a number of positions across the pitch.

However, Pochettino rarely sanctions big-money moves for injury prone players, especially those reaching their 30s. Bale is now 28 and has neither the potential to improve nor the willingness to adapt. There’s also the chance Bale wouldn’t be able to cope with the Argentine’s rigorous training regimes.

Signing Bale, moreover, doesn't solve the issues at hand in the Spurs squad. They desperately need depth across the board, not a superstar marquee signing. Bale doesn't solve the issue at right back or in defensive midfield. That money would, theoretically, be best spent on multiple players.

To double Spurs’ transfer record on an aging, injury prone superstar isn’t Pochettino’s style.

Can Spurs fans dream?

There’s no reason the Tottenham faithful can’t dream of one of the club’s best-ever players returning and, truthfully, there’s reason to believe Bale would in fact want to return.

“You can speak to Bale and say to him ‘Listen, you have got three Champions Leagues, what are you going to do at Man United, win another…? Why don’t you come here, take us to the next level.”

Ian Wright makes a fair point and a believable one at that. Bale has gone to Real Madrid and won it all; La Liga and the Champions League, including last season’s double. At Manchester United it would be more of the same, certainly, but it’s not as attractive as the project at Spurs.


To come back to Spurs in this environment is enticing, it’s sellable to Bale. The new stadium is rising by the day, the current crop of players are arguably one of the best-ever generations and they have the potential to win the Premier League title, perhaps more so than Man United.

Bale could come and be their Neymar, their Lionel Messi. He would be the centre-piece, the focal point, the crowning jewel of their project and the world-class, title-winning influence they need to move on to the next level.

He was touted as the next Ronaldo, but that never happened as it was supposed to at the Bernabeu. He could move back to London to be a Ronaldo at Spurs. It’s definitely something Spurs could sell.

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Oli Stein

Oli graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in History and has worked with RealSport since September 2016.

Currently assistant football editor and Tottenham correspondent.

Follow him on Twitter: @steinoliver_