Gareth Bale’s loan to Tottenham Hotspur this season certainly was exciting and full of nostalgia for Spurs fans. When he hit a run of form a few weeks ago, there was even talk that there’s an extension clause in his loan contract that could see him stay in North London until his Real Madrid contract expires in 2022.
But to hear Gareth say it, that wasn’t the plan at all. Speaking to the Welsh media while on international duty and as reported in The Athletic (£), Bale is planning on returning to Madrid to see out the remainder of his (lucrative) contract, and then see where life takes him next.
“It’s no distraction for me coming into the Euros. The original plan was only to do a season at Spurs, then after the Euros, I’ll still have a year left at Madrid and my plan is to go back. That’s as far as I’ve planned to be honest.
“Over the last few years, this is probably the most match fitness I’ve had. I’m feeling fresh and ready to go.”
There’s already a subset of Spurs fandom reacting badly to these comments, implying somehow that Bale has been “using” Tottenham just to enhance his own career. To which I respond: Yeah! Duh. Bale hadn’t been playing regular football for a year and a half before this loan back to Spurs. Of course the goal was to get match fit! Bale loves playing for Wales, and he’d love nothing else than to lead them to a good run in a major international tournament, considering that it’s highly unlikely that Wales will ever qualify for a World Cup. Meanwhile he’s scored some dope goals for Spurs and gave us all a 2012-era nostalgia trip. Totally worth it, IMO. It’s not like he owes us anything.
And while it’s a bit disappointing that Bale’s return to the club will be the one season when there weren’t fans in attendance to cheer him, his form’s been pretty up and down along his path back to fitness. If the rumors about Spurs being cash strapped this summer and needing to sell to finance any new purchases (or perhaps to finance the buyout of a certain current manager) are true, then freeing up Bale’s wages also makes a certain amount of financial sense. Bale’s getting paid either way, either partially through us or fully through Madrid.
And that brings up a final possibility (as brought up in the comments when this article was first posted) — this could be part of a plan by Bale to potentially have his second loan terms modified. The previous reporting suggested that the 2nd year on Bale’s loan are at the same terms as this year, i.e. less than Kane but still up there and with most of his massive wages subsidized by Madrid. I’m going to guess that Madrid would really really REALLY like him to go elsewhere because it’s clear Zinedine Zidane has no use for him, and whatever they’re paying for him NOT to be at Madrid is still less than they’ll pay him to be at Madrid.
So if Spurs say they can’t afford to keep Bale around next season after a whole year with no gate revenue, then Bale’s comments could be the first salvo in maybe Spurs trying to negotiate a better deal for Bale’s second year at Tottenham. Can I prove it? Nope! But it would be some pretty slick bald jedi master transfer wizard shit by Daniel Levy if he could pull it off. In that light, Bale’s comments might just be the first domino in that chain.
Bale went on to hint at some of the discord that’s been percolating through the Tottenham clubhouse over the past couple of weeks, implying that heading off to Wales to play for his country had a bit of a vacation aspect to it.
“I always think when things aren’t going too well at a club, it’s nice to get away, especially mentally get away from the club environment. Definitely, it can be a benefit. We focus on these games for Wales, which are very important for us. We forget club life and concentrate on this.”
Bale and Wales play World Cup qualifiers at Belgium tomorrow at 3:45 p.m. ET, and home to the Czech Republic on March 30. Sandwiched in between is a friendly against Mexico on March 27.