Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho has said Gareth Bale has nothing to prove, insisting his ‘special qualities’ can help the club by the end of the season.
The Welsh international is just starting to come to life after a dismal start to his second stint in north London, which was hampered by injuries which prevented Mourinho from offering him many minutes.
There seemed to be some friction between the two a fortnight ago when Ball posted a photo on Instagram suggesting he had trained well before saying so Mourinho, he didn’t feel fit enough to play against Everton in the FA Cup.
But Bale showed signs he was returning to somewhere near his best with an impressive 45-minute display in the 2-1 loss to West Ham, where he landed a pass, passed defenders and hit the crossbar with fierce effort.
And Mourinho is “totally convinced” of the quality of Bale and hopes to start delivering more at the end of the season.
“He doesn’t need to convince me of anything,” Mourinho said ahead of the Europa League final second leg against Wolfsberger. “I am totally convinced of everything. It’s not about convincing me, it’s about being ready to play the minutes we would all like him to play.
“It’s a process. You feel that in the games of the past two years. This is the process. We of course want him to be ready to play every minute of every game.
“He’s a player with special qualities, we saw against West Ham in 45 seconds the positive impact on the quality of the match. He had a cross, he had a few assists, he hit the crossbar.
“Bale is doing it better and better, but he doesn’t play 90 minutes, he doesn’t play every game. We have to manage its evolution. But he has nothing to convince me at all.
Spurs will have six games in March before an international break where Bale could play three times for Wales, so Mourinho is keen to manage it carefully.
“We play Wolfsberger and then we face Burnley, Fulham midweek, Crystal Palace at home and we hope to play in the Europa League again,” he said. “We play nine games – six plus three – in March.
“It’s six for us at the club plus three for the national team. Our players are going to play nine games in March, which is absolutely crazy.
“And Gareth is a particular example of a player we need to take care of. I can tell you that right now Gareth is playing every minute he can and that we feel it’s good for his development.
“And what he wants and what we want is in this latter part of the season to play more minutes and more crucial games than him.”
Davies: He was our best player
While some have questioned whether Bale’s heart really was on his return to English football, his Welsh team-mate Ben Davies never doubted him.
“I think for myself I will never have doubts about Gareth Bale, having played with him and seen how good he can be,” said left-back.
“I feel like there’s sort of a narrative around him that one week he’s brilliant and one week not. Never mind that he hasn’t played a lot of football in the past year. He must rebuild his way.
“I thought when he played West Ham this weekend he was probably our best player.
“So for me there is no doubt that the quality of Gareth Bale is there and we will see it.
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