Gareth Bale’s sensational Tottenham return was arguably the biggest story of the summer transfer window.
The final season of his first spell with the club saw him score 21 times in the Premier League, on his way to scooping the PFA Players’ Player of the Year.
After a trophy-laden time with Real Madrid, the Welshman will have been desperate to hit the ground running after a season-long loan deal was finalised last month.
But a combination of injuries and lack of match sharpness mean that Bale has played just 18 minutes in the league so far, and he made his second start in Thursday’s Europa League tie against Royal Antwerp.
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Unfortunately for Bale and Spurs, a lacklustre display saw Jose Mourinho’s men fall to a shock 1-0 defeat in Belgium.
Mourinho made nine changes for their second group game, but clearly frustrated by what he had seen, he made his full array of five substitutions.
The fifth and final of those was the 31-year-old, swapped for current captain and the talisman that emerged during his absence, Harry Kane.
Mourinho would have preferred to rest Tottenham ’s skipper, but the Portuguese was forced to bring on his big guns.
Following the change, BT Sport pundit Jermaine Jenas said: “Just shows you how desperate it has got in this second half for Tottenham to find something to get themselves going. They have got to bring on the main man (Harry Kane).
“Not a good night for Bale. Still trying to find a level of fitness. But there was no creativity from him tonight.”
Bale may have left north London as the undoubted main man, but seven years later, his status in the Spurs pecking order is still to be established.
For all of his former heroics, he currently finds himself behind the likes of Kane, Son Heung-Min and to a lesser extent, Lucas Moura.
It’s still early days and it is clear that is a lot more to come from the Welsh wizard. But regardless, his status as Spurs’ focal point now appears a distant memory.
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