sport news MARTIN SAMUEL: Gareth Bale can ignite Jose Mourinho's era at Tottenham

The cynical view, of course, is that Tottenham's bold play is little more than all our yesterdays.

Yesterday's manager, buying yesterday's player for yesterday's club. Jose Mourinho, his best days past, recruiting Gareth Bale, 31 and increasingly prone to injury, to play for Tottenham, already misty-eyed for the Mauricio Pochettino era in which nothing was won beyond praise.

Given signed a new contract at Arsenal this week, and Chelsea officially unveiled Timo Werner to the media, there will be mockery of Tottenham going for a hero from a bygone age.

Gareth Bale can prove all his doubters wrong if he recaptures his best form for Tottenham

Gareth Bale can prove all his doubters wrong if he recaptures his best form for Tottenham

Jose Mourinho is taking a gamble on the 31-year-old but he has taken similar risk in the past

Jose Mourinho is taking a gamble on the 31-year-old but he has taken similar risk in the past

Bale's last game for the club was on May 19, 2013. His manager, Andre Villas-Boas, has had three jobs since then; the opponents, , have fallen two divisions; one of Bale's team-mates that day, Brad Friedel, will be 50 next birthday.

Consider, too, that the player likely to be shifted to make room for the new signing is Dele Alli, seven years Bale's junior and until recently considered among the brightest prospects in the English game. Mourinho said that Sir Alex Ferguson offered him only one piece of advice during his time with : buy Alli.

Instead, he looks likely to be his first major casualty, having moved jobs. Needing to raise funds, Mourinho is said to be willing to sell Alli and it is the chairman, Daniel Levy, who has counselled that a loan deal would be preferable.

Mourinho appears to have turned his back on Dele Alli, who looks set to leave in wake of Bale

Mourinho appears to have turned his back on Dele Alli, who looks set to leave in wake of Bale

Bale became a fan favourite at Spurs and his return is likely to galvanise supporters after the opening loss

Despite success in Spain, he has been pushed out by Zinedine Zidane and is keen to play regularly again

Bale became a fan favourite at Tottenham (left) and while he had rich success since leaving for Spain seven years ago, he has since been frozen out by manager Zinedine Zidane (right)

Maybe he has the second-act stories of Kevin De Bruyne and Mohamed Salah in mind. Maybe he recalls the player Alli was and hopes that spark can be ignited elsewhere, to Tottenham's ultimate benefit. Maybe he simply doesn't want to sell a prized asset in a depressed market.

Inevitably, though, losing Alli would take the gloss off Bale's return for some. Couldn't Mourinho have persisted with him?

He's not the first to become disillusioned with Alli — he hasn't featured for Gareth Southgate's England since the final game of 2018-19 either — but this seems a rather drastic measure.

Then again, one question: would a Premier League defender rather play against Alli right now or Bale? If there is a chance that Bale could revisit the form that took him to in the first place, would he not be one of the most dangerous players in English football? That is Mourinho's gamble, and it is one he has taken before.

He has a penchant for world-class players with a point to prove and his career is littered with their signings: Hernan Crespo, Samuel Eto'o, Michael Essien, Emmanuel Adebayor, Cesc Fabregas, Radamel Falcao, Didier Drogba, Nemanja Matic, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. All recruited either on the way down from a bigger club, or at a point when their ability to influence was being doubted.

Bale fits both bills. It is no secret that his preference was for a career at ; and, right now, there is speculation whether his talent or hunger remains. This is his chance to prove his employers, and his doubters, wrong.

Bale has fun with his reputation as a keener golfer

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