105 goals, 68 assists, six major titles (four Champions League and two La Liga titles), and two injury-hit seasons later, Gareth Bale might not be the same force that he used to be when he joined Real Madrid seven years ago. He was not even a first-choice player for Zinedine Zidane in his last few years at Madrid. But, as he returns to his former club -- Tottenham Hotspur -- in a much-awaited loan deal, he might just be the missing link that was holding Spurs back from making their big moments count.
Tottenham have been one of the most consistent clubs to finish inside the top six of the Premier League in the last decade or so and yet, they have never been able to win a title. Not only that, in the 2018-19 season, they reached the final of the UEFA Champions League for the first time after beating strong opponents like Manchester City and Ajax in the previous rounds, but they faltered once again in the final as they lost to Liverpool.
So it sums up how Spurs have always faltered at the final hurdles, the big moments, despite being so good during their journey towards that destination.
This is where Gareth Bale's return to Tottenham becomes so important. The most significant thing the 31-year-old forward brings with himself is the big-game experience that the club has struggled with all these years. Bale's experience of contributing to Real Madrid's six major title-victories over the years will be really helpful for all the Tottenham players.
He is currently on the sidelines with an injured knee and is expected to return to action by mid-October. And once he does, his role will be the most important in Tottenham's upheaval. Not just big-match experience, but Bale offers so much more to the side in terms of his playing ability.
First of all, he makes Tottenham's front-three a real force to deal with. At the moment, Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son are the only players whom oppositions look to contain and the lack of a third major figure doesn't allow the two forwards the space and room they need to make an impact in every match.
In the three Premier League matches Tottenham have played this season, the two forwards have been quite effectively contained twice. Only Southampton failed to deal with them and they eventually lost by a massive 5-2 margin. Everton, on the other hand, registered a 1-0 victory over Spurs whereas Newcastle United recorded a 1-1 draw. So that clearly sums up how Kane and Son have made only half of the impact they would in the presence of an equally capable third forward.
Bale's history of scoring, his physical strength, pace and ability to cut in from the wing makes him a real good addition to Kane and Son up top. He would completely take the load off them and at least one of the trio will always remain open to take a clear shot at the goal. He brings the aerial ability to the forward lines too, as Bale is quite tall and good at heading the ball.
Moreover, he is very versatile and gives Tottenham immense flexibility. Bale can play at any position -- right-wing, left-wing or even as a No.10 behind the striker. He can even play upfront as a major striker if the need arises. So that is something that gives Jose Mourinho the freedom he wants in tweaking his formations without compromising on player quality.
Yes, his fitness and frequent injuries still remain a concern but if used in the right way, Bale will just be what Tottenham always needed to fulfil their dreams.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter /@SpursOfficial