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Andre Villas-Boas reveals tactical talk that unlocked Gareth Bale’s potential

Soccer – Barclays Premier League – Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur – St Mary’s
(Image credit: PA Wire)

Former Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas has recalled the conversation that helped turn Gareth Bale into the world’s most expensive player.

The Wales international had first made an impact at White Hart Lane under Harry Redknapp, but it was not until Villas-Boas tinkered with his formation that Bale’s full potential was unlocked.

The Portuguese, who managed Spurs for 18 months between 2012 and 2013, moved Bale higher up the pitch and it paid immediate dividends as he went on to produce stunning form which saw Real Madrid sign him for a then world-record £85million in the summer of 2013.

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“When Gareth wasn’t feeling that he was unlocking his full potential, he came into my office one day and he said, ‘Boss I’m not happy, things are not going well for me’,” the current Marseille manager told COPA90 in a virtual manager masterclass to celebrate the biggest update of EA SPORTS FIFA 21’s Career Mode in 10 years.

“Okay, I said, ‘I can try and change to a 4-4-2 formation, and you play free at the top with (Emmanuel) Adebayor and I can move (Gylfi) Sigurdsson to the left, cutting in.

“This is when Gareth started on that run of games where he scored, I think for five or six games in a row, and then the results exploded, and his career exploded from that moment on.”

Spurs fans will be hoping Bale can recreate similar form as he looks to make his second debut for the club against West Ham on Sunday.

Gareth Bale's form for Spurs under Villas-Boas saw him become the world's most expensive player

Gareth Bale’s form for Spurs under Villas-Boas saw him become the world’s most expensive player (Nick Potts/PA)

Bale has been regaining his fitness during the current international break, with staff inside the club highly impressed by his levels in training.

That will please chairman Daniel Levy, who negotiated a favourable deal to get Bale back on loan from Real Madrid last month.

But Villas-Boas’ recollection of another incident from his time at Spurs will not be so good for Levy to hear.

The Portuguese has spoken about the time they had Willian pinched from under their noses by Chelsea, just after Bale had been sold.

It is well-known that Spurs paid for the Brazilian’s travel to London and medical ahead of a proposed move to north London, before he eventually chose Chelsea at the death, but Villas-Boas has given more detail.

“I think that Daniel Levy won’t appreciate it too much, but we had Willian in our office at Spurs, watching the Champions League game together, before he left the room and signed for Chelsea that night,” he added.

“We also missed (João) Moutinho, who became famous mostly of course because of Wolves, because of being one minute late on the deadline.”

:: EA SPORTS FIFA 21 and COPA90 linked Timbsy up with Zinedine Zidane, Antonio Conte, Andre Villas-Boas, Brendan Rodgers and Chris Wilder for a Virtual Manager Masterclass to celebrate the biggest update of Career Mode in 10 years.