Jose Mourinho is still seriously thinking about signing Gareth Bale permanently for Tottenham, but appears to have laid down a challenge to the Real Madrid loanee to prove his worth first.
Bale’s Spurs homecoming looked like it was going to be a flop after struggling with fitness issues that came as a result of two years of relative inactivity at the Spanish club.
The 31-year-old spent much of the first half of the campaign in the treatment room or the bench. Mourinho struggled to get anything out of him, but in recent weeks Bale has been resurgent.
His devastating display against Burnley, scoring two and making another, showed there is still life in his legs. It comes at a good time for Spurs heading into a crucial part of the season.
That has led to renewed speculation that Tottenham could look to make his loan move permanent this summer.
Mourinho, however, has done his best to deflect attention away from Tottenham by stating only Madrid will know why it has taken until March for his fitness to reach its peak.
“Why for the past two years did he have what he had in Madrid? Ask them,” he said.
“Maybe if they answer to you, you can understand better why it took a while, or maybe to be patient was the main reason for him to reach the level that he showed in the last couple of weeks.”
Pundit Noel Whelan reckons Mourinho is probably still considering his options over Bale. More performances like that against Burnley would help his cause. However, speaking to Football Insider, Whelan reckons Mourinho was buying some time and appears unsure what yet to do about Bale.
“I think that’s called deflecting the question onto another team without giving you a proper answer,” Whelan said.
“That says to me he’s still undecided whether he wants Gareth Bale himself at the football club.
“I think that’s probably wise considering he’s not been playing or been chosen throughout the season. I don’t think it really surprises any of us that he’s deflected that to Real Madrid, instead of answering the question himself.
“Maybe he’s needing to see how he finishes the season.
“Whether he’s got what it takes to offer Tottenham to be stronger next year. If he’s worthy of paying the wages that he’s demanding right now and what he’s getting.
“There’s lots to take into consideration.”
Mourinho sends message to Rodon
Wales defender Joe Rodon got a run of games earlier this year and impressed Mourinho with his display against Liverpool at the end of January. But now, he has not featured for the last month.
Mourinho said the 23-year-old, who was again left out of the Europa League squad, is working his hardest to get back in his plans.
“He has to do nothing – he works very hard, good professional,” Mourinho said. “He has to do nothing.
“He cannot play in the Europa League so that makes his chances reduced, in relation to the other guys. Centre-back is a position where of course if he was in the Europa League he would have lots of chances to play in these 11 matches that we did.
“There’s nothing. He’s perfect, works very hard, young guy, wants to learn, very enthusiastic. He played already matches that represent a lot, he played important matches against some of the best teams. He has just to wait for his opportunities and to get it.”