Glenn Hoddle believes Gareth Bale has plenty left in the tank to make a success of his second spell at Tottenham - declaring the Welshman’s return ‘a shrewd deal’.
Bale has been in the process of finalising a loan move back to the club where he previously spent six years, after falling out of favour at Real Madrid.
The 31-year-old has suffered from injury problems at times in recent seasons, but Hoddle believes his lack of action could actually work to Tottenham’s advantage.
“As a Spurs man, I’m excited,” the Tottenham legend told FourFourTwo. “If Gareth was a car, in the last two seasons he hasn’t had very much mileage. It’s not like he’s played forty-odd games for two seasons, and he’s knackered. You’d say there’s plenty left in the tank.
“He’s not a true 31-year-old - he’s really like a 28-year-old because he hasn’t had that much football in the last couple of years, so he should have that in the tank waiting to go. Now it’s how the engine is - is it finely tuned? That’s where Jose Mourinho and the medical staff at Tottenham have got such an important part to play - how they keep him fit and protect him at the right times, and make sure they get 30-plus games out of him.
“I don’t think we’re going to see a Gareth Bale like when he left Tottenham. I don’t think he’s going to be box to box, beating five or six players. There’ll be times when that might happen in little spurts, but he’s a more experienced player now, and if he can keep his body fit and keep that engine right, with the experience he’s gained, he’s always had a pass in him.
“For some players who rely on their pace, they find it hard when they get into the autumn of their career. Gareth can see pictures, he can pass and he can create, as well as score wonderful goals. I think we’ll see a slightly different player, but it will suit Jose tactically.
“Daniel Levy likes a shrewd deal, and this is a shrewd deal. He hasn’t gone and had to pay £80m for him, and then paid his wages as well.”
Mourinho is also finalising a deal to bring in attacking left back Sergio Reguilon, who was on loan at Sevilla from Real Madrid last season. It follows the recent addition of right back Matt Doherty from Wolves.
“Jose wants to counter, to bank up and defend properly,” Hoddle said. “Now he has a left back who can get forward quickly as well, so I think we’re going to see more creation now.
“I was always worried that we’ve got firepower, but who’s going to be the creator? Well you’ve got Gareth and the new left back, and Doherty likes to get forward too.
“My word, when you’re a manager, you’re 1-0 down and you look along your bench, you want game changers and Spurs have got plenty of them now - whether it’s Bale coming on from the bench, maybe Harry Kane one week, Lucas Moura, Steven Bergwijn, Dele Alli, Son. They’ve got some goals in them, they’ve got unbelievable firepower up top. It’s whether the creation has been missed and if they can get that right, it could be an exciting time.
“It’s a little bit of a make or break season for Tottenham, but with Gareth Bale and Reguilon as well, he’s an attacking full back, he’ll create things. Reguilon is going to be under the radar, everyone is talking about Bale but this kid could really be a major asset. Jose might even play three at the back, with Ben Davies playing in the left channel as a centre back. He’s got options.”
Tottenham travel to Southampton on Sunday, in a game to be shown live on BT Sport. Mourinho has also been linked with a move for Saints striker Danny Ings, but Hoddle believes that move would make little sense for either Spurs or the player himself.
“If I’m brutally honest, if Gareth Bale wasn’t coming, I’d have said maybe they do need him, yeah,” the BT Sport pundit said. “But if he’s going to come as a number two to Harry Kane, I’m not sure that’s right for Danny Ings at this moment in his career. I don’t think at the moment we probably need him - he’s a wonderful striker, but he’ll want to play week in and week out. If he’s coming as a second choice to Kane, I don’t think that would happen.
“There’s enough firepower, there’s enough goals there, so people have got to step up for Tottenham now. Southampton haven’t started well, and Ings has got to get off the mark - if he does that and starts scoring goals, that was why they finished so well last season.
“I look at the Premier League now - it’s always been the toughest league, but take Liverpool and Man City away, and from third down to ninth or 10th, you could end up third or you could end up 10th in this league. It is that tight. I see Wolves and Everton having good seasons, I really do. You look at what Sheffield United did last year, Burnley did it a few years ago, look at Leeds and how they performed in their first game. This is a tough Premier League - tougher than any season, I think.
“Maybe the top two might still stay there, but even they have got to perform at eight out of 10, otherwise you get turned over in this league. It’s going to be a massive challenge for Tottenham and Gareth Bale, hence why they have to get his body right. Good luck to those physios at Tottenham, they’ve got a big job on their hands.”
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