Gareth Bale is set to make his second Tottenham debut against West Ham on Sunday, according to Spurs boss Jose Mourinho, who revealed the Welshman is already feeling back at home.
Bale rejoined Tottenham on a season-long loan deal from Real Madrid last month after seven years in Spain, where he struggled to integrate into the culture and language.
Sergio Reguilon also made the move from Madrid to Tottenham and Mourinho said the Spanish left-back sees the difference in Bale’s mood.
“It’s great to hear from Sergio that Gareth looks a different guy. If he’s happy with us and then goes home and can share that happiness with family,” said Mourinho.
“He needs football, he needs to feel a top player again. All the decisions we make with him will be thinking first about the team, but never forgetting what is best for him.”
Bale has spent the past two weeks training after a knee injury delayed his return.
However, he has had little game time over the past year as he fell down the pecking order under Zinedine Zidane at Madrid.
“Of course he wants to play,” Mourinho said. “He wanted to play since the day he arrived, but it was not possible.
“It’s a physical thing. He didn’t have any pre-season and even in the period after lockdown he didn’t participate in much with Real Madrid.
“Then he plays couple of matches with Wales and had an injury there, so it is not just about coming 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 and ‘yes, I’m ready to go’. Probably he plays Sunday, if not it is Thursday, but he’s there.”
‘He never beat me’
Mourinho confirmed that England striker Harry Kane will start the game, with his new understudy Carlos Vinicius on the bench.
The Brazilian was one of six new arrivals along with Bale, Reguilon, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Matt Doherty and Joe Hart.
And Mourinho lavished praise on the club’s board and chairman Daniel Levy, who he described as a “genius”, for such a productive window amid the economic gloom caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Mr Levy showed once more that when he wants and when he is really involved he is a genius in the way he makes deals happen,” he said.
“I want to take the chance to publicly thank my boss, my board, Mr. Levy, the structure and everybody involved in the transfer window because what they did for the team was amazing.
“In such a difficult period, the club made an incredible effort.”
Mourinho also could not resist taking a dig at long-time foe Arsene Wenger.
The former Arsenal manager has released a book, but Mourinho does not feature after the two clashed on several occasions and Wenger won just two of 19 meetings against the Portuguese.
“Because he never beat me. You’re not going to do a chapter about 12, 14 matches and never win one so why should he speak about me?” Mourinho said.
“A book is a thing to make you happy, make you proud so I understand perfectly.”