Last week, Jose Mourinho proudly announced that Tottenham were receiving the 'data' from training that Gareth Bale was ‘arriving’.
Working up to full fitness after being frozen out of the picture at Real Madrid, the Welshman’s start to his second life as a Spurs player had been a slow one.
However, after his winning goal at home to Brighton on Sunday evening, Bale’s performance against Ludogorets in last night’s Europa League win certainly fits in with the data Mourinho was talking about.
Described by The Athletic’s Charlie Eccleshare as his ‘best display’ since returning to Spurs, Bale looked like a key cog in their well-oiled attacking unit, rather than an ageing frontman backed by a trendy new band behind him.
Both of his long balls found the target and his 96.7% passing accuracy was way up on his 54.5% in the Premier League this season, despite making almost 25 more passes than he generally has since his return domestic competition (30 to 5.5).
Obviously, the quality of the opposition must be taken into account but his link-up play with Harry Kane in the build-up to Lucas Moura’s goal to double Spurs’ advantage suggested he was getting to grips with the way in which the Spurs machine moves.
This isn’t a player who Spurs are hoping can translate his Europa League performance into the Premier League. No, he’s proven himself at the top level for years, looking to use this competition to ramp up his return in order to get to the levels he’s previously set.
Tougher opposition lies ahead but if Bale is indeed arriving, it’s a huge boost for Spurs. It certainly stands to reasons that he’ll be ready for harder assignments thanks to performances like this.
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