The bizarre swap move Gareth Bale was almost involved in during his Tottenham spell

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Most football fans have become so accustomed to seeing Gareth Bale pull the strings at the Bernabeu that it is easy to forget just how far he has come in the last few years.

Bale joined Real Madrid from Tottenham back in 2013 - for a world record fee at the time - but there will be plenty of Spurs fans who recall his difficult start to life in north London.

Having arrived as a talented youngster from Southampton, the Welsh prodigy looked like he was struggling to adapt to the Premier League.

After failing to win in any of his first 24 appearances for the club, Bale was considered a jinx and could have easily been shown the exit.

Even considering his slow start at Tottenham, there would have been plenty of clubs interested in letting the young left-back fulfill his potential with them.

It turns out that he was even the subject of brief discussions regarding a potential switch to Reading.

Ex-Reading favourite Stephen Hunt has revealed in a column for the Independent how close he came to moving to Spurs during the 2007/08 campaign.

The Irish winger had impressed in his first season in the Premier League and Tottenham were among those interested in signing him.

And Spurs were believed to be willing to throw in Bale as a potential sweetener to get the deal over the line too.

"When I was in my second Premier League season with Reading, playing well and in the Ireland squad, Tottenham were one of the teams sniffing around," Hunt wrote.

"Nothing came of it, but there was definite interest and a couple of ideas were put to my agent. There was even talk of Spurs allowing Gareth Bale to leave in the opposite direction.

"Well, what a lucky escape for Tottenham and Real Madrid when that deal fell through!"

Just imagine how differently things could have gone had Bale actually become a Royals player.

As it happened, it was Harry Redknapp who carefully nurtured Bale to find his true potential at White Hart Lane.

Fast-forward back to the present and Bale has had a rather frustrating campaign in Spain, dogged by injury and suspension.

Nevertheless, the 27-year-old has still scored nine times and assisted four more in 22 appearances this season.

He made his return from a two-game ban at the weekend and helped Madrid maintain their lead at the top of La Liga with a 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao.

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La Liga
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Gareth Bale
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