Gareth Bale to Tottenham: Wales star's return to Spurs sees both changed from before but able to boost each other

"This most unexpected of things, a statement signing from Daniel Levy, will give Jose Mourinho, Spurs and their fans hope of an exciting season ahead. That seemed far from certain after the insipid, opening-weekend defeat to Everton. But Bale is back and optimism is in the air"

Gareth Bale
Image: Gareth Bale is coming back to Tottenham - a move few thought possible until recently

After being frozen out at Real Madrid, Gareth Bale is returning to the warm embrace of Tottenham Hotspur.

Due to the current restrictions, the stands won't be packed with Spurs fans in replica Bale shirts for his debut but he will feel the love back in north London - in a way he distinctly did not at Real Madrid.

It's a move which, since his departure in 2013, has scarcely seemed possible. How would Spurs, with their savvy spending under Daniel Levy, ever create the financial and footballing package required to bring Bale back?

Yet, against the odds - and with the assistance of a breakdown in the relationship between Bale and his Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane - the stars have aligned for Levy to pull off this breath-taking deal; the first, genuinely showstopping player signing of his tenure.

City Spurs Goals
Image: Bale scooped all of the player of the year prizes in his final 2012/13 season at Spurs

Bale was the Premier League's golden boy when he left for the Bernabeu in 2013. He returns seven years later as a four-time Champions League winner and with a huge pile of silverware from his time in Madrid.

But that fairytale journey to arguably the world's biggest club had an unhappy ending. From a distance it seemed barely believable a solution could not be found in the Spanish capital between Bale and Zidane; that a player of Bale's calibre could be allowed to become a mere observer in the stands.

Zinedine Zidane and Gareth Bale
Image: Bale's relationship with Zinedine Zidane left him out in the cold in Real Madrid

But back in the Premier League, Bale has the opportunity to remind his critics of his quality and that, at 31, he can still be one of the most exciting players on the planet.

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Reunions do not always work out but - as with all reunions - there is optimism this one can be a hit.

For that to happen both sides will have to appreciate the changes the other has gone through. Tottenham and Bale are transformed from what they were when they were last together.

Injuries and age mean Bale is no longer the rampaging, lung-busting left-winger he was when he last wore the Spurs badge. That goal against Inter Milan seems unlikely to be repeated this time around.

Gareth Bale during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between FC Internazionale Milano and Tottenham Hotspur at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on October 20, 2010 in Milan, Italy.
Image: Bale has changed from the buccaneering left-winger style he had when he was last at Tottenham

But instead, Bale has learnt to linger in dangerous areas and then make his quality count. His Spurs team-mates must find a way to get the ball to him more frequently than they have Harry Kane in recent months. From there, Bale's left foot will do plenty of damage.

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As for Spurs, they were a side in need of a new direction under Andre Villas-Boas when Bale left. Back then, they were out of the Champions League qualifying places and in need of renewal after scaling new heights. There's a distinct symmetry with the current situation.

Rob Newell captures Gareth Bale in mid flight, as the Welshman attempts an overhead kick in Spurs' 3-2 win over West Ham.
Image: Bale will bring the spectacular to Spurs

Portuguese potential in Villas-Boas has been replaced by Mourinho the master since then, but once again it is a Spurs side trying to find a new path after the highs and sad end to the Mauricio Pochettino era.

But White Hart Lane has been transformed into a gleaming new stadium and Bale is befitting of the grand stage. Mourinho - himself Levy's other glamorous appointment - is in search of winners and leaders, to turn a squad of nearly men into trophy lifters. Bale epitomises what he's after.

Quite how it all comes together on the pitch is a matter Mourinho will have to mull over.

Spurs head coach Jose Mourinho 0:25
Jose Mourinho says he will not talk about Gareth Bale as he still views him as a Real Madrid player until he officially joins Tottenham

He described his team's pressure as lazy against Everton last weekend but he's not signed a ferocious defender from the front in Bale. He has at least five other players already vying for a place alongside Kane in attack.

Fitting it all together to harness the strengths of Kane and Bale will be Mourinho's challenge. But it's one the manager will relish. These are the quality of players he feels he should be working with. And he knows he has a point to prove, too.

So, this most unexpected of things, a statement signing from Levy, will give Mourinho, Spurs and their fans hope of an exciting season ahead.

That seemed far from certain after the insipid, opening-weekend defeat to Everton. But Bale is back and with this happy marriage optimism is in the air.

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