LONDON – Seven years after leaving for a world-record fee to Real Madrid, Gareth Bale is back at Tottenham in a bid to reignite his career.
He has brought a teammate with him, too.
Tottenham confirmed the season-long loan signing of Bale on Saturday in one of the most high-profile moves of the transfer window, minutes after announcing left back Sergio Reguilón is also joining from the Spanish champions.
“It's such a special club to me,” the 31-year-old Bale said of Spurs, “it's where I made my name.”
It was his dazzling displays for the London club that earned Bale the move to Madrid in 2013 for 100 million euros (then $132 million), a world-leading fee at the time.
Bale won four Champions League titles and two La Liga titles at Madrid but struggled for game time in recent seasons. Bale is seeking to rediscover his motivation for the game under manager Jose Mourinho at Tottenham, where he is set to form an exciting-looking forward line with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.
Tottenham is without a piece of major silverware since 2008 and the winger, who also helped Wales reach the semifinals of Euro 2016, believes he can help to end that drought.
“By going to Madrid, winning trophies and going far with the national team, I feel like I have that winning mentality,” Bale said. “You don't realize until you are there. In those situations, the nerves, the pressure, I think that all goes with experience. Hopefully I can bring that to the dressing room, bring that belief that we can win a trophy.”
Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane did not even use Bale in the final eight games of the last campaign and the club's fans grew frustrated with him, despite his knack of scoring incredible goals in big games — including in two Champions League finals.
Zidane said Saturday that he had no hard feelings for Bale.
“I’ve never had any problems with Bale and never has he been a pain,” Zidane said. “He’s done excellently in terms of what he’s achieved here and there should be no discussion about that. He’s won a lot of trophies at Real Madrid.”
Tottenham said it does not expect Bale to be match fit until after the international break in October after he hurt his knee playing for Wales this month.
“This, together with La Liga’s later start compared to the Premier League, means he has had a limited pre-season,” Tottenham said.
Reguilón, a 23-year-old left back, has joined Tottenham permanently on a contract through 2025. Reguilón, who made his Spain debut in the Nations League this month, won the Europa League in August while on loan at Sevilla.
Reguilón and Bale join a Tottenham side trying to return to the Champions League after failing to qualify for this season's competition because of a sixth-place finish in the Premier League.
Tottenham opened the new season with a loss to Everton and is currently having to go through qualifying to make the Europa League group stage.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports