Gareth Bale will not return to Tottenham Hotspur before the January transfer window slams shut on Friday, with the Real Madrid attacker’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, telling England’s Daily Mail that any suggestion to the contrary was “crap.”
Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane seemed to confirm as much in a press conference on Friday. “Gareth is with us. I'm counting on him,” he said a day before his team was to meet city rival Atletico Madrid. “I do not contemplate this possibility” of him leaving this month.
That’s not to say things can’t change before the 11 p.m. GMT [6 p.m. ET] deadline. Bale was not named to Zidane’s squad to face Atletico; teams often shut down a player for fear of injury if a move is imminent. However, Bale has been nursing an ankle injury that forced him to sit out Real’s last two matches.
The 30-year-old had been linked to a move back to London for at least the last couple of weeks. The Welsh international starred for Spurs from 2007-2013, when he was sold to Real for a then-world record transfer fee of $100 million. Bale went on to help the Spanish titans win three Champions League titles and one La Liga crown. Nonetheless, he has never been considered a favorite of Zidane’s.
Despite being used off the bench during much of his six-plus years in Madrid, the winger has averaged a goal almost every other game, with 80 strikes in 167 appearances in Spain’s top division. Bale came close to leaving for the Chinese Super League last summer before the deal collapsed in the 11th hour.
Tottenham is in the midst of a disappointing season less than a year after reaching the Champions League final for the first time in the club’s 137-year history. Mauricio Pochettino was fired as coach in November and replaced by Jose Mourinho. Spurs currently sit sixth in the Premier League after finishing in the top four in each of the previous four campaigns.
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