Tottenham: Does Mourinho finally trust Bale?
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Tottenham will struggle to land Gareth Bale on a permanent basis in the summer as a result of the financial implications of their Europa League exit, according to former Premier League defender Danny Mills. Spurs were dumped out of the competition in embarrassing fashion on Thursday at the hands of Dinamo Zagreb, who successfully overturned a two-goal first-leg deficit to book their place in the quarter-finals of the tournament.
Bale was introduced as a second-half substitute and came close to finding the net in extra time, but failed to inspire his side to victory as Misalv Orsic’s remarkable hat-trick sealed the result to leave Tottenham’s hopes of Champions League football next season in tatters.
They can now only qualify for Europe’s most prestigious club competition by securing a top-four finish in the Premier League, a task that is likely to be a step too far with just ten matches remaining.
Spurs currently occupy eighth place in the table, six points behind Chelsea in fourth, who have played an extra game.
Jose Mourinho’s side have failed to beat better-placed teams on four occasions since the turn of the year, which does not bode well for their Champions League ambitions with tests against Manchester United, Everton and Leicester City still to come.
Mills, who played every minute for England at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, believes that Spurs will not be able to afford the permanent signing of Bale if they fail to book their place among Europe’s elite.
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He told Football Insider that the money lost by missing out on a top-four finish would quash any hopes of landing the Welshman in the summer.
When asked if Thursday’s Europa League slip-up could put a pre-season approach for Bale in doubt, Mills replied: “Quite possibly, yes.
“What is it, £150million the Champions League is worth? It’s a lot of money.
“You can always afford players a mistake, missed chance, a slip, as long as they work their absolute socks off and give absolutely everything in that game, even if they only last 60 minutes.
“If you’ve given everything, there can be no complaints. It’s something to work on. But if players aren’t working back, closing down and putting in effort you’ve got a problem.
“I don’t think the Tottenham players did that on Thursday night, and that has to come down to professional pride.”
Bale has played 25 games for Spurs in all competitions this season, scoring ten goals and creating another three in the process.
He largely failed to live up to expectations during the first half of the campaign, but has returned to form in recent weeks after being handed an extended run of Premier League action.
The 31-year-old played a starring role in the victories over Burnley and Crystal Palace earlier this month, leading to speculation that Spurs could aim to land him on a permanent basis at the end of the season.
By the time summer comes around, Bale will have just a year left on his £600,000 per week contract with Real Madrid.
Los Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane, who fell out with the Cardiff native last season, is under pressure in the Spanish capital amid a disappointing campaign in charge.
If the 48-year-old departs before the start of next season, it could spell a return to the fold for Bale who was frozen out under Zidane prior to joining Spurs on loan.
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