The news of Gareth Bale’s return to Tottenham set the English Premier League abuzz last summer. Frozen out under Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid, there was real excitement that Bale could reignite his career at Spurs. We anxiously awaited the arrival of the electric, nearly-unplayable footballer we remembered from nearly a decade ago, when Bale scored 21 league goals in 2012-13 and won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award, the Young Player of the Year award, and the Football Writers Association Footballer of the Year award. Just how good was the Bale of old? Well, the only other player to ever win all three of those awards in the same year is Cristiano Ronaldo. Raja covered Bale’s summer loan transfer here.
But fast-forward to mid-February, and it would be hard to call Bale’s much-anticipated Tottenham redux anything but a bust. He struggled for match fitness and was unable to nail down a regular spot in Jose Mourinho’s starting-XI. He had started just twice in the league, scoring only once. In the Manchester City match on Feb 13, Mourinho waited until the 72nd minute — with Spurs already down by three goals — to sub the Welshman in for Erik Lamela. Although Bale was playing a slightly more important role in Cup matches, in the league he played only 290 minutes over six months (24 games). It was hard to argue that he was worth the £300,000 in weekly wages that Spurs are paying him (with another £300,000/week paid by Real Madrid).
And then Spurs played Leg 1 of their Europa League Round of 32 match against Wolfsburg on Feb 18. Bale was handed a start, and he promptly assisted Son’s opener before scoring his own sensational goal to put Spurs up 2-0.
But even this performance wasn’t enough to win him starts in either of Tottenham’s next two games. He was introduced after intermission in Spurs’ Premier League match against West Ham on Feb 21, providing the assist for the only goal in their 1-2 loss. And in the reverse Europa League fixture against Wolfsburg on Feb 24, he subbed on in the 68th minute to score the third goal of Tottenham’s 3-0 victory.
That brings us to Sunday’s league match against Burnley. Mourinho finally handed Bale just his third league start of the season, and Bale rewarded his manager’s faith with a brace plus an assist in a comprehensive 4-0 drubbing of the Clarets. The extended match highlights are below; pay close attention to Bale’s second strike at the 6:20 mark as it is simply exquisite.
So after six months and more than £7M in wages, could Gareth Bale finally be coming good for Spurs? Has he done what is necessary to establish himself as a regular starter in Jose Mourinho’s set-up? And most importantly, should we bring him into our fantasy teams? Our staffers share their opinions below.
Until Bale establishes himself as a reliable starter I’ll look to Harry Kane or Heung-Min Son as my preferred Spurs assets. At £9.3 Bale costs almost as much as his Korean teammate, and he is more expensive than proven FPL performers who start regularly such as Jack Grealish, Ilkay Gundogan, Harvey Barnes, Pedro Neto, Wilfried Zaha, Bukayo Saka, and Raphinha. Given Bale’s relatively high price, his worrisome track record with injuries,, and his manager’s fickle approach to team selection, for now I’m happy to watch and wait.
The reason I’m not buying Bale in FPL is the same reason I did bring him into my Fantrax sides for DGW-26: price. At $2.78 in F-11 and $1.90 in F-17, his 27-point return in the Burnley game has already paid me back handsomely before Spurs’ second game of the double has even started. As I mentioned above I’m still not convinced he’s nailed down a role as a regular starter for league games, but at those prices I’m happy to carry him for now even in F-11, where I have no cover for no-shows. Bale has clearly demonstrated that he can produce off the bench, and his dime store pricing allows me to stretch my budget to bring in other big-name studs. As opposed to FPL where I will monitor his performances before investing, in Fantrax I’ll monitor his performances before dropping.
I am not looking to bring the Welshman into my side anytime soon. Although Bale has been impressive recently and reminded us of his ability, he’s vastly overpriced in this game. Originally coming in at £9.5, Bale attracted a fair number of suitors; however, it was soon clear that he wasn’t going to play much, so he dropped to his current price of £9.3, which is still way too high for me. I would be half-tempted if he was around the £6-7M mark, but even that’s still a risk because he’s not yet a set starter. If I was lagging far behind in the leagues, then I might give him a go as a great differential, but only risk if you are far behind and have nothing to lose. He could also be useful in a Free-Hit side in blank GW-29.
I was fortunate enough to have brought Bale into my side into both of my Fantrax teams prior to the current DGW-26. Bale was/is priced reasonably well around the $1Mil mark when I purchased him, so he was a great enabler. As mentioned above, he is a risk but for that price it’s one I’m willing to take. While his price remains low, there is no harm in buying him. I usually like to take a punt at this price-point and Bale fills that role perfectly.
In FPL, limited free transfers make it vital to avoid making a mistake with every precious move. At £9.3m, Gareth Bale is awfully pricey for someone who has only made three starts and played just 361 minutes this season, carrying an enormous risk. Jose Mourinho is too erratic a manager to trust with any player aside from Harry Kane, Son and Hugo Lloris. Anyone else is in danger of going from starter to benchwarmer at the drop of a hat, and Jose might drop the hat himself. On top of that, Bale’s injury history makes him a constant worry of heading to the trainer’s room. Measured against similarly priced midfielders such as Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford (£9.6m) and Spurs’ teammate Son (£9.5m), Mr. Man Bun comes out on the short end of the stick until he shows that he truly is a regular starter and scorer. But if you do want to add him before GW-27, just make sure that Bale makes it through the second game of DGW-26 healthy before confirming the transfer.
Unlimited transfers combined with a bargain basement price tag make Bale a different story in Fantrax. It was a no-brainer to grab Bale at $2.78 at retail (or even cheaper for those savvy enough to do so on the prior barndoor) before DGW-26, and he immediately paid off handsomely with 27 points in the 4-0 win over Burnley. That has pushed Bale’s output up to 7.8 ppg across his 9 outings, an impressive average considering he has started only a third of his appearances. Even if he doesn't start every match, the Welsh winger should more than return value the rest of the way in the Fantrax format. After all, in his six games coming off the bench, Bale has averaged 4.9 ppg.
That’s a no for now. He’s still not consistent enough for me to gamble on at that price. He’s certainly one I’m keeping my on eye if he does become that consistent starter and scorer. I’ve got enough other problems on my team to fix, and bringing him in won’t fix any them.
When I picked up Bale for the double week at $2.78. I wasn’t expecting an explosion like that. I figured over two games he’d get at least one start and hopefully put up some points with a chance at a goal. Instead we saw the Bale that Spurs had been hoping for. If he keeps playing, he’s not going anyway. There’s a lot of value in him that allows for investment and movement in other areas.
It’s obviously risky given how little playing time he’s had, but Spurs’ fixtures are good and they play in GW-29 when there aren’t many games. It’s tempting to have Kane, Son and Bale for this period. Although basing it on one game against an under-strength Burnley might be a bit rash, so I may hold off a week (or at least until we see Bale’s role on Thursday).
At that price why not? NMA-17 is a no-brainer, and in F11 he’s likely to get plenty of game time now, injuries permitting. I only wish I’d brought him in for the DGW.
Those of you who got him for the Burnley game have got your reward; I would keep him to see how his role develops. For the rest of us, we’re looking at an expensive asset with a history of injury issues, unlikely to play multiple games back to back for a manager who can decide to remove him at any point. The fixture congestion alone is more than enough for me to avoid him.
Bale has had a couple week purple patch and given playing time will capitalize, but at 9.3m he is way too expensive for me with all the risks.
Having picked him up last week, I then saw him play on Thursday evening and thought he wouldn’t get both the double week games, so I made the mistake of selling him late before GW-26. He may still not get the 2nd start. I didn't see his huge haul coming, and that lost me ground in our league.
Should he start on Thursday, I will wonder if I should have him. The Palace game is before back-to-back Europa League QF and North London Derby. For now and until I know more, how can you not pick him up at the current price?
FPL: Not yet
Bale still must prove to me that he owns a starting slot, not just a DGW fill-in role. Prices change slowly in FPL, so it shouldn’t cost much to gain info on his reliability.
Fantrax NMA-11 Almost; NMA-17: Yes
In NMA-11, zeros are difficult to swallow, so watch Spurs’ second match of the DGW on Thursday at Fulham before pulling the trigger on the barn door (his $2.78 price will be good until 08:00 GMT Friday). NMA-17 offers cover, so buy him now (at $1.90!) to replace an expensive dud, and then let the spare cash fire your imagination for other upgrades.
Will Gareth Bale Be In Your GW-27 Fantasy Squads?
This poll is closed
Yes, in FPL
Yes, in Fantrax
Yes, in both FPL and Fantrax
Is the world-beating Gareth Bale of 2012-13 finally back, or are his recent performances just a flash in the pan? Was he in your DGW-26 squads? Will you bring him in for GW-27? Please vote in our poll, and then share your plans in the comments!