The Welsh star has struggled to hit top form since returning to Tottenham, with a former teammate suggesting it may not be his own fault.
Peter Crouch reckons Zinedine Zidane’s refusal to play Gareth Bale at Real Madrid disrupted the player’s fitness and could be the reason for his slow start back at Tottenham.
After Zidane effectively froze him out of the Real Madrid squad last season, Bale secured a return to Spurs in September on a season-long loan deal – seven years after his world-record €101m departure.
But the 31-year-old had to first recover from a knee injury before he could finally make his second debut against West Ham in October.
Jose Mourinho, though, has restricted him to just one start in the Premier League so far. Bale has instead featured prominently in the Europa League, but he’s yet to complete a full 90-minute match for Spurs.
“It was unrealistic for people to expect Gareth to come back from seven years in Spain and be the turbocharged winger who blew us away,” former Spurs striker Crouch told the Daily Mail.
“In the years I played with him, I have never seen anyone who had such an engine — up, down, up, down at full pace for 90 minutes.
“His last two years in Madrid were ruined by Zinedine Zidane effectively cutting him out and that much disruption has an impact on a player finding rhythm.
“One thing I have noticed is that he is cleverer in terms of how he times his runs and when he engages top gear.
“You also have to recognise how good Son Heung-min, Harry Kane and Steven Bergwijn have been for Jose Mourinho.
“Son and Kane were magnificent on the counter against Arsenal and the more I see them, the more I see genuine title challengers. Gareth will play his part to help, for sure.”