Gareth Bale has confirmed he is planning to return to Real Madrid next season, dashing any hopes Tottenham may have had of securing a permanent deal.
The Welshman joined Spurs on a season-long loan in September 2020 having fallen out of favour with Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane.
His relationship with Spurs head coach Jose Mourinho seemed similarly fractious in the early stages of the move, with his Premier League involvement limited to cameo roles from the bench.
Injuries have also hampered his bid to become a regular in the Spurs starting XI, though he's recently looked like his old self after a few stirring performances - netting four goals and two assists in his previous six league outings.
However, any hope of him staying at Spurs beyond this season appears to have been scuppered - after Bale revealed that he only ever intended to regain fitness ahead of Wales' Euro 2020 campaign.
“There’s no distraction for me,” Bale said (via Evening Standard) ahead of Wales’ opening 2022 World Cup qualifier in Belgium. “I think the main reason I came to Spurs this year was to play football first and foremost.
“Going into the Euros I wanted to be match-fit. The original plan was to do a season at Spurs and after the Euros still have a year left at Real Madrid. My plan is to go back, that’s as far I have planned.
“Over the last few years this is probably the most match fitness I’ve had. I’m feeling fresh and ready to go. I always think when things aren’t going too well at a club, it’s nice to get away, especially mentally, get away from the club environment.
“Definitely it can be a benefit. We focus on these games for Wales, which are very important for us. We forget club life and concentrate on this.”
Bale has just under 18 months remaining on his Real Madrid contract, and will become a free agent in the summer of 2022 unless he miraculously pens fresh terms. Any chance Spurs had of securing Bale's permanent signing has always hinged on his astronomical wages, with his temporary move alone rumoured to have cost the club £13m.