Madrid-based journalist, Euan McTear has told Football.London that Gareth Bale is a completely different player to that one that joined Real from Spurs back in 2013.
He also insisted that the Welshman is scared to sprint these days as he is worried he will get injured.
Injury problems plagued Bale’s career in the Spanish capital but, when fit, the Welshman was often unplayable, particularly in his early days at the club.
Bale did miss a golden opportunity to get off the mark on his second Spurs debut against West Ham last week, but that can perhaps be put down to rustiness due to his recent lack of game time.
The 31-year-old certainly showed glimpses of his old self after being handed a start against LASK on Thursday, boosting past players and looking to make things happen whenever he got on the ball.
However, McTear insisted that Bale seemed scared to turn on the after-burners in his final few seasons with Madrid.
He told Football.London: “I think he’s a very, very different player. I remember the Bale Real Madrid signed was quick, dynamic, could play counter-attacking football and that’s not him anymore.
“I don’t know if he’s lost the pace but I think the big thing really is that he’s had so many injuries that he’s almost scared now to really sprint.
“You see a lot of games towards the end of last season at the Bernabeu when the fans were still there, just watching Bale off the ball sometimes was interesting as he just wouldn’t run in the way that you had seen him do in previous years.
“There might be a slightly slack pass running out of play where three of four years ago he would have sprinted to keep it in play as he was one of the quickest players on the pitch, now he wouldn’t make that run. I don’t know if he can make those runs or it’s the fear of pulling something.
“That’s the thing about his injuries as it’s not just one injury where he has to be careful with one part of his body. With Bale, he’s had hamstring problems, calf issues and everything, so you sort of see a little bit of fear in the way he runs.
“I think he’s a lot more tactically advanced and tactically astute than when he left as he’s played under some very good coaches at Real Madrid. I think he can have a little bit more pause in his game and pick things out.
“He’s still a talented player, he can still hit them, still pass it but the big difference is the sprint and running as he just looks a little bit nervous to pull up with something.”
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