Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho has warned Gareth Bale he cannot simply expect minutes because of his reputation at the club.
The Welshman returned from Real Madrid on a season-long loan, with Spurs paying a hefty portion of his enormous wages, but they are yet to see that return justified on the pitch. Bale has managed just 12 appearances in all competitions and has started just once in the Premier League.
Bale’s only minutes of 2021 so far came in the shape of a 25-minute cameo against non-league Marine in the FA Cup third round, and Mourinho insisted he’s not simply going to hand Bale minutes if he does not feel the Welshman deserves them.
“I cannot give players minutes, minutes on the pitch is not something I can give, so I’m not going in this direction,” he said (via Sky Sports News). “We all know the difficulties he had for a couple seasons, we all know that he arrived injured, we all know that even this season (has been) a little bit up and down with small things.
“The most important thing for him is to be consistent, training without any problems and when a player is consistent in training, high intensity without any kind of problems then the player is ready. Not to be given minutes, but is ready to earn minutes, and that for me is a difference.
“This week he is working every minute like everybody else at a good intensity and let’s see the way that he reacts to the accumulation of that kind of work and let’s see how he reacts by the end of the week.”
Mourinho did reveal that Bale could feature in Monday’s FA Cup fourth round tie with Wycombe Wanderers, but only if the 31-year-old’s performances in training justify his inclusion in the squad.
It’s a tricky one for Spurs, who are currently paying Bale a huge amount of money without getting anything back from him on the pitch.
The situation is similar to that of midfielder Dele Alli, who has also had to settle for minutes in cup competitions this season. Paris Saint-Germain are keen to take the Englishman on loan, but Spurs are reluctant to sanction any deal which includes an option to buy.