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How will Gareth Bale and Sergio Reguilon improve Tottenham Hotspur?

Bale returned to Spurs after seven years.
Bale returned to Spurs after seven years.
Zaid Pathan
CONTRIBUTOR
Modified 21 Sep 2020, 03:58 IST
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Just a week ago, Tottenham Hotspur supporters would’ve thought the club’s transfer business was all wrapped up, at least in terms of incomings. Manager Jose Mourinho suggested the same a few weeks ago.

The Portuguese boss said no one should expect any big names, as the club wouldn’t be spending huge sums in the transfer market. Well, that all made sense totally, with Tottenham expected to lose £200 miliion due to COVID-19.

However, after just one game of the 2020-21 season, Tottenham have confirmed the signings of a Real Madrid duo, left-back Sergio Reguilon and forward Gareth Bale.

Perhaps Mourinho was right when he said “no players for £100 million,” but Tottenham are definitely getting a big name in Bale without spending an enormous sum.

Tottenham had already acquired Matt Doherty and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, who both started in the opening day defeat against Everton. The transfer fee that Spurs paid for them was nowhere near what they splurged on Tanguy Ndombele last summer though. The same could be said for Reguilon, but Bale is an exception here, despite coming in on loan.

Gareth Bale's role at Tottenham

The arrival of the Wales international means Tottenham are no longer a "Harry Kane team," as Pep Guardiola once said. So, how will the 31-year-old’s presence impact the Lily Whites?

Son Heung-min and Kane are guaranteed starters when fit in Mourinho’s preferred 4-2-3-1 system. Bale could certainly get a nod at the right side of the attack, which is usually occupied by Lucas Moura.

That would suit him perfectly, as he can drift inside to combine with Kane and make space for the rushing full-back on the flank. Bale is left-footed and is known for shooting from distance. This means he can curl in shots at the far post from the right, or put in teasing crosses for Son and Kane.

Having the Welshman in the squad will certainly open up a lot of possibilities for Tottenham. Bale could also partner up with Kane in a 4-4-2, as the former Southampton player has the experience of leading the line with his national side. Another prospect would be playing 4-3-3 with a front three of Son, Kane and Bale, with Giovani Lo Celso anchoring the midfield.

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Changing formation to fit in new players will leave question marks for others. In Tottenham’s case, moving away from 4-2-3-1 would pose serious doubts over how Dele Alli would contribute. However, this is the kind of headache any manager would love to have.

Bale will certainly bring a lot of positivity and memories, but the supporters need to realise that he is not the same player who left White Hart Lane seven years ago.

Taking into account the fact that he is 31, hasn’t played regularly for months, had various long-term injuries over the years and is short of fitness, you can’t expect him to set the pitch on fire that often.

Sergio Reguilon's role at Tottenham

As far as Reguilon is concerned, his case is much simpler than Bale. The Spaniard is an attacking full-back. His stats back up that argument. The following table compares Reguilon’s numbers to Davies' last season:

Reguilon vs Davies - 2019-20 league numbers (Data taken from FBref.com)
Reguilon vs Davies - 2019-20 league numbers (Data taken from FBref.com)
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One thing that must be noted here is that the Spaniard made 31 league appearances, for Sevilla on loan from Real, compared to Davies’ 18. Still, Reguilon’s numbers are remarkable.

Another thing to consider is that when Mourinho took over in November, he started implementing a lopsided system. The Portuguese manager realised that Davies isn’t an explosive full-back like Danny Rose, who himself was an outcast.

He would've concluded that the Welsh international doesn’t have much to offer up the field. Therefore, Mourinho gave Serge Aurier the licence to roam forward on the opposite flank, while restricting his left-back as an auxiliary left-sided centre back.

Spurs now also have Doherty on the right to maximise their attacking output. Reguilon’s overlapping runs down the flank and willingness to surge forward to deliver would restore balance to Tottenham’s lopsided system.

Playing 3-4-3 would make sense, as it would accommodate two wing-backs and suit Bale as well. However, this would again put a question mark over Alli’s position.

Tottenham’s latest pair of signings have boosted the spirits of everyone who’s associated with the club. Nonetheless, they will have to wait a while to see both new faces in the action, as they’re currently injured.   

All in all, Tottenham have a better squad than they had last season and the Lily White faithful have every right to be optimistic.

Published 21 Sep 2020, 03:58 IST
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