Glenn Hoddle has voiced his concern about Gareth Bale’s lack of development since returning to Tottenham from Real Madrid.
Bale, who rejoined Spurs on a season-long loan in the summer transfer window, has started just one Premier League game this term and was ignored in recent matches against Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.
But the Welshman has impressed in flashes, scoring a fine headed winner in a win over Brighton and almost finding the net with a superb free-kick against Royal Antwerp on Thursday – from which Carlos Vinicius tapped in the rebound.
Despite those moments, however, Hoddle has suggested Bale is behind where many thought he would be at this stage of his settling-in period.
“By now, I would expect him to be ahead of where he is, he looks fragile and tentative when he goes in and when it is tight,” Hoddle told BT Sport (as relayed by the Mirror).
“He still seems unsure of his body, he hasn’t quite got that change of pace. It is getting there but whether he gets it back again is the big question mark, and that was the big risk bringing Gareth back to Tottenham.
“But I feel there is more to come, which will elevate Tottenham’s performance as well but it just feels like he is on the back foot.”
Bale’s lack of fitness and drop in pace has probably been responsible for his reduced minutes – Jose Mourinho is always going to prefer the likes of Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura to play defensive wide roles against the top sides.
But Bale is bound to come in useful throughout the campaign. In fact, there is a very good chance he will start against Crystal Palace this weekend after being substituted on the hour on Thursday.
Spurs fans will be hoping the team is rewarded a free-kick within shooting distance after his stunning effort in the Europa League.