In Sheffield United’s internal coverage of their 4-0 loss to Tottenham, Gareth Bale is described as “one of the best players on the planet”.
I’ll admit, I made fun of that. And then I looked at the accents.
And now I will write an official apology to the SUTV comment team, because obviously they know more than I do.
In January, it would have been difficult to imagine Bale playing a role at Tottenham after the end of this season, given how little he has been involved in the first half of the campaign. Jose Mourinho was puzzled by his contribution to training, and several unpleasant injuries limited him to one start in the Premier League in 20 games.
Slowly but surely, however, he began to prove his worth in his second spell in north London.
The braces against Burnley and Crystal Palace gave him a more remarkable role in the team in the first months of 2021, and Ryan Mason seems convinced that he is a far more valuable player than Mourinho thought.
But Sunday took things to another level for the Welshman, as he left us without a doubt that Bale, who made his name at White Hart Lane is still there.
The Spurs could boast of the embarrassment of wealth in the final third, but Bale stood head and shoulders above them all as he parted Sheffield United. The pace and directness of the holiday blew away the hosts, and its completion … Jesus Christ, its completion.
He had wrapped up his high frequencies before the clock struck 70, and each of his targets was beautiful.
His first, great drink beyond Aaron Ramsdale with the outside of his left shoe.
His second, overtaking the entire back line of the Blades, before throwing a high past the desperate guard.
And his third, low, left step from the edge of the box, which even Iker Casillas in his heyday would not smell.
It was one of the best hat-tricks you’ve ever seen, and it leaves you wondering if there’s room for Bale in Tottenham’s recovery next season.
Earlier, he said he planned to return to Real Madrid, but later admitted that it was just an initial loan agreement and not indicative of what he wanted. Crucially, these quotes also appeared before Mourinho’s dismissal and Mason’s temporary appointment – which Bale clearly enjoys.
Reviving his career in Madrid seems very unlikely, so why not want to stay in Tottenham, where he finally returns and plays some of his best football?
It is a bastion of familiarity that could help ease the transition to a new era and which is now coinciding with a series of forms that are simply too hot to ignore.
He has scored eight goals in his last six starts in the league and if Real Madrid are ready to sell – which they most likely will be – then it would be self-destructive not to look for a deal.
“One of the best players on the planet” may push him a little, but if Bale’s form is maintained, he will not be far from the conversation again. It is up to Tottenham to make sure they continue their renaissance in north London.