Tottenham have re-signed Wales forward Gareth Bale from Spanish champions Real Madrid on a season-long loan.
He originally joined Tottenham as a 17-year-old from Southampton in 2007 for an initial payment of £5m.
Bale has also won two La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey, three Uefa Super Cups and three Club World Cups with Real.
He remains the most expensive British player in history, as well as the top-scoring British player in La Liga – with 80 goals and 40 assists in 171 league appearances, averaging a goal or assist every 104 minutes.
However, a run of injuries, indifferent form and a deteriorating relationship with manager Zinedine Zidane had seen Bale become a marginal figure.
From the world’s most expensive signing to a player on the fringes
Real eclipsed the £80m they paid Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009 to take Bale to the Bernabeu, with the forward signing an initial £300,000-per-week, six-year contract.
He extended his stay with a new six-year deal in 2016, reported to be worth £600,000 a week – and £150m over its duration – in salaries and bonuses.
The Welshman was hugely successful in his first few seasons at Real, scoring in the 2014 and 2018 Champions League finals, as well as the 2014 Copa del Rey final.
BBC Sport readers voted Bale as the best British export of the Premier League era earlier this year, his 42% share comfortably eclipsing former England, Manchester United and Real Madrid winger David Beckham’s 29%.
|Champions League||2014, 2016, 2017, 2018|
|La Liga||2016-17, 2019-20|
|Copa del Rey||2014|
|Uefa Super Cup||2014, 2016, 2017|
|Club World Cup||2014, 2017, 2018|
But, frustrated by a lack of playing time, Bale came close to a move to China last year before Real blocked it.
After celebrating Wales’ qualification for Euro 2020 with a banner reading “Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that Order” in November, he received a backlash in Spain and was jeered by Real fans in his first game back for the club.
His relationship with Zidane deteriorated to the extent Bale asked not to travel with the squad for the Champions League last-16 second-leg tie against Manchester City in August because he knew he had no chance of being involved.
He started just one match when the 2019-20 La Liga season resumed following the coronavirus shutdown and played only 100 minutes as Real won a first league title since 2017, and was conspicuously on the fringes of the team’s celebrations.
Bale joins manager Jose Mourinho’s other signings of this transfer window, joining goalkeeper Joe Hart, defender Matt Doherty, midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and left-back Sergio Reguilon at the club.
Tottenham, Champions League finalists in 2019, were beaten 1-0 at home by Everton in their first match of the 2020-21 campaign on Sunday.
They finished sixth in the English top flight last season to qualify for the Europa League, seven points adrift of Chelsea in the final Champions League position.
Mourinho, beginning his first full campaign with Spurs after succeeding Mauricio Pochettino in December, tried to sign Bale when Real Madrid boss but the player arrived the season after the Portuguese’s departure.
Opposition will be scared of Bale ‘wow’ factor – analysis
Former Spurs and England midfielder Danny Murphy:
Gareth Bale has that “wow” factor, something only a few very special players in the world have got.
When they play, they have a different aura and a presence on the pitch that affects everyone – even before they kick a ball.
So, Bale will not just have a positive effect on his new Tottenham team-mates and give them a massive confidence boost, he will change the way opposition players feel about facing Spurs.
They will be worried when they see his name on the teamsheet and then, when they face him on the pitch, I can tell you now they will drop off five yards because they will be scared of him – whoever they are.
More to follow.
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