Bale ‘a different player’ than at Real Madrid

Jose Mourinho has said Gareth Bale will “probably” make his second Tottenham debut from the start against West Ham on Sunday after revealing his teammate Sergio Reguilon believes the Wales international is “different player” in north London. Bale ended a period in exile at Real Madrid by rejoining Spurs on a season-long loan last month, seven years after he left for Spain for a then world-record fee.

“It is great to listen from Serge who shared the dressing room with him in Madrid that he looks a different guy,” Mourinho said. “So if he is happy with us and then he goes home and he can share that happiness with family, it is the best thing that can happen to him. He needs his football, he needs to feel a top player again. All the decisions will be thinking first about the team but never forgetting what is the best for him.

“It is a physical thing. He didn’t have any preseason and even in the period after the lockdown, he didn’t participate in much with Real Madrid and then he plays a couple of matches with Wales. He had an injury there.

“It is not just about coming in and needing a week of work to be at the level. It is more global than that. We don’t want him to be rushed. We want him to feel comfortable, to make the decision of ‘yes I’m ready to go.’ It is more about that.

“But he is working so well. It is just evolution in everything, in every data and aspect of his condition. Probably he plays Sunday, if he doesn’t he will on Thursday [against LASK in the Europa League].

“Of course he wants to play. He wanted to play since the day he arrived but it was not possible.

“What I can tell you is that he is working every week, probably he is working the way he was not able to do for quite a long time. The last week, especially this week Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, the planning of the sessions had a big focus on him.

“The Gareth situation is quite special because of his history in the past couple of seasons. We care as much about him as he cares about Tottenham. We are going to make the best decision for him and the team.”

Mourinho confirmed that Harry Kane will start against West Ham, ending a potential disagreement between the Spurs boss and England manager Gareth Southgate over his workload during international duty, while also reserving special praise for Daniel Levy over his handling of the transfer window.