Opinion: Gareth Bale’s Tottenham return by the numbers

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Gareth Bale
Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

After returning to White Hart Lane last summer, Gareth Bale endured a season of ups and downs.

He had a difficult first half of the season under Jose Mourinho, but began to flourish and show signs of his old self towards the end of the campaign, shining in particular with a hat-trick against Sheffield United.

It would be naive to say that I think Gareth Bale’s return to White Hart Lane was a complete success; there are plenty of aspects of his game that I don’t like, and plenty that need improving. 

However, I wanted to see exactly how well he performed at Spurs this year compared to his last season at the Bernabeu. 

Starting with the simplest stats, Bale made 34 appearances for Spurs this season and was included in the squad a total of 44 times (Transfermarkt). At Real Madrid in the 2019/20 season, he made 20 appearances and was included in the squad 31 times (Transfermarkt).

Spurs played a total of 58 games last season, (Transfermarkt) meaning Gareth Bale was included in the squad 75.9% of the time. Madrid played 51 games in 2019/20, meaning he was only included in the squad for 60% of their games.

He was out injured for a total of 12 games for us last season, compared to his 13 games out injured at Madrid the season before (Transfermarkt), but found himself excluded from the Madrid squad completely a surprising 7 times, compared to always being in the squad when he was available at White Hart Lane.

For me, this points towards the rumoured hostility between Bale and then-Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.

For all of his flaws, Jose Mourinho knew that if Bale was fit, you include him in the squad, for the sole reason that he is a proven game-changer, and can provide big moments when needed.

In terms of goals, it is much different reading. He netted a total of three times for Real Madrid in 2019/20, at a GPG score of 0.15 (Transfermarkt).

When compared to his 16 goals at Spurs (GPG score of 0.47), (Transfermarkt) you can clearly see how much more prolific Bale was at Spurs than Madrid. 

I can only put this down to a happiness factor. If anything, the majority of his playing season has been spent playing very negative, defensive football, compared to Madrid’s more attacking style, which should dictate fewer goals, but that is simply not the case. This clearly shows that if Gareth is happy, and used as often as possible, he scores goals. 

And while you could say that he didn’t score any goals against more challenging opposition (the likes of Man. City and Liverpool as examples), he still came up with the goods when we were under the cosh.

For example, scoring the winner against Brighton early in the season, and coming off the bench to win the game and secure Europa Conference League football next season against Leicester (time will only tell if we will thank him for that!)

He scored a goal every 104 minutes for Spurs last season, with a brilliant Premier League record of a goal every 84 minutes, put simply, one goal per game (Transfermarkt).

Compared to scoring one goal every 420 minutes for Madrid (546 in La Liga), there is a clear difference (Transfermarkt).

And his overall minutes played don’t really reflect that much of a difference, playing 1667 and 1260 minutes for Spurs (Transfermarkt) and Madrid respectively.

To put that into context, if he was scoring in the 2019/20 season at the same rate as he did this season, he would have scored 12 goals for Madrid that season. More evidence if needed, that Bale was not playing well because he wasn’t being utilised correctly.

One factor that could be attributed to this is his lack of full games at Spurs last season, only completing one full 90 minutes during the season, compared to 6 full games the season before.

It could be that by subbing him on or off around the hour mark as we did the majority of the season keeps him fresher, and gives him more opportunities to score goals. 

I would conclude that Gareth Bale has undoubtedly had a much better season at Spurs than he did last time around at Madrid. His goals return is much higher, his minutes on the pitch improved, and his overall demeanour much better, in my opinion.

Hopefully, we can secure him on loan again next season.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Yes at 250 – 300 a week we paid for him that’s great. He only managed as far as I remember to score against one top team on the last day. The rest were against lower ranked teams in the league. So one of footballs top paid players scored goals for us to get us into 7th. What a fabulous season we had. We are really on the up with bale and levy from 3rd till 7th. Were next year without Harry his goals and assists 10th, 14th 18th. Will we even have a manager. Does anyone even want to work with levy.

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