Bale completes sensational return to Tottenham

19.9.2020 17:55

Gareth Bale is back at Tottenham Hotspur after seven years away, the club announced Saturday.

The four-time Champions League winner returned to Spurs by putting the final touches on a season-long loan from Real Madrid.

Bale arrives at the club with a knee issue he suffered while on Wales duty earlier this month. This injury, coupled with the later start to La Liga's season, means Bale's not expected to be match fit until the visit from West Ham United on Oct. 17.

He will wear the No. 9 shirt.

"It's such a special club. I always thought when I did leave that one day I would love to come back," the 31-year-old said. "The opportunity now has arisen and I feel like it's a good fit, it's a good time for me.

"I'm hungry, I'm motivated, I want to do well for the team. I can't wait to get started."

After initially struggling to establish himself in Spurs' first team as a left-back, Bale was pushed into a left-wing berth in front of Benoit Assou-Ekotto during the latter half of the 2009-10 campaign. He shone in that role, helping engineer 2-1 victories over Arsenal and Chelsea, and continued to play in that slot the following season, when he collected the PFA Player of the Year award and tore Inter Milan's Maicon to shreds - twice - in the Champions League group stage.

Bale was already one of English football's standout players, but experiments with his position in 2011-12 led to his most impressive term for Tottenham in 2012-13. He scored 21 goals in the Premier League as he was given license to roam into space in wide or central positions.

His last Tottenham goal was a 90th-minute thunderbolt against Sunderland:

The Southampton academy product's exploits earned him his second PFA Player of the Year prize in three years. He was soon headed to Real Madrid for a then-world-record transfer fee of €100.8 million in summer 2013.

Bale's spell at Real Madrid was defined by moments of magnificence but, ultimately, disappointment.

Bale simultaneously avoided grievous bodily harm and ravaged Barcelona's right-hand side for his sublime Copa del Rey final winner in 2014, he scored a bicycle kick against Liverpool in the 2018 Champions League final, and he contributed many, many more electrifying and crucial goals and performances.

However, the Welshman struggled to win the fans' affections in the Spanish capital. Each missed shot seemed to prove he wasn't worth his price tag, each incompleted dribble was somehow evidence he cared more about golf than football. The Santiago Bernabeu crowd has been merciless with its boos and jeers in the past, but Bale was regularly singled out for "special" treatment by the home supporters.

Still, for an oft-maligned player, Bale's medal haul from Real Madrid is spectacular: four Champions League crowns, two La Liga titles, two UEFA Super Cups, three Club World Cups, a Copa del Rey, and the Supercopa de Espana.

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