The squad building bashers will say otherwise. As will the tactical experts. As will the fitness gurus. But Gareth Bale’s transfer back home to Tottenham Hotspur, the club where he announced himself to the world, is the most exciting and brilliant thing to happen to the cub since reaching the Champions League final last May.
It seems ridiculous to say that a player who has scored the key winning goal in two Champions League finals has been a failed transfer. However, after a hugely promising opening two seasons between 2013 and 2015 for Los Merengues, a series of events dominated by injuries and a fallout with manager Zinedine Zidane, has led to an end of a career at a club of which the acrimony of it the world has rarely seen before. The final nail in the coffin was perhaps the blatant admission from Bale of his detached situation last November, where upon qualifying for Euro 2020 he and his Welsh teammates had a photoshoot with the ‘Wales, Golf, Madrid- in that order’ flag which had become iconic. Bale is certainly not without blame in the relationship- his demeanour when on the bench should be more engaged, and his failure to learn even the most basic of Spanish or Spanish customs is pretty disgraceful given he has lived in the capital for 7 years, especially considering his pride in representing a nation with a maligned and underappreciated language of its own. Most of all though, he hasn’t helped himself by not only spending a lot of his spare time on the golf course, leading to narratives that he’s sponging a wage, but he has exacerbated this by his perceived failure to actively seek a transfer away involving a significant pay cut.
Conversely, the vilification of Bale from fans of Los Blancos, a player who has, in effect, secured the club two of its 13 Champions League titles, is even more despicable. Thankfully, with chairman Daniel Levy finally digging deep into his rich pockets, he now has a landing spot where he can call home, even with fair questions over his fitness and waning star ability, but in particular his relationship with erratic manager José Mourinho
Perhaps legendary manager Bill Nicholson is their only god, but Bale is certainly in the league of Jimmy Greaves, Martin Chivers, Ossie Ardiles Gary Lineker, Paul Gascoigne and Jürgen Klinsmann one tier below, and is almost certainly their best of the century, only potentially rivalled by Harry Kane. If he can rekindle even some of his electric persona and ability from those dreamy years, it will be a success.
Bale walks on water to Tottenham fans. And ultimately, that’s all that will matter, when one of their club’s demigods returns.