David Beckham's Inter Miami are trying to woo Cristiano Ronaldo to MLS.

Ronaldo, 36, is contracted at Juventus until 2022, but his next move is seemingly already a discussion point.

And MLS could suit nicely if Beckham has his way.

 

TOP STORY – BECKHAM'S INTER MIAMI EYE CRISTIANO

Beckham is speaking to Ronaldo's representatives about a move to Inter Miami, according to todofichajes.com.

The Portugal international is understood to be interested by the challenge of joining the club in the United States.

The financial contract would be massive for Ronaldo but he may potentially make the move next January, lowering the transfer fee, given the MLS runs from March to December.

Lionel Messi was reportedly previously sounded out about a possible US switch.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Express are reporting that Gareth Bale's recent form upturn means Tottenham are now keen to sign him permanently, with the Welshman having joined on loan from Real Madrid. Subsequently, the funds availed from a permanent transfer could enable Madrid to enter the fray for Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe.

West Ham, Leicester City, Southampton, Brighton and Hove Albion and Aston Villa are among the list of clubs interested in Tammy Abraham if Chelsea deem him surplus to requirements, according to The Telegraph.

- The Star claims the Hammers are also keen on two other young English strikers; Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah and Brentford's Ivan Toney.

- Deportivo Alaves goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco is being pursued by Premier League pair Leeds United and Southampton, according to todofichajes.com.

Manchester United lost further ground to Premier League leaders Manchester City as they played out a 0-0 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. 

The Red Devils are now 12 points behind Pep Guardiola's seemingly unstoppable side, who are well on their way to a third title in four seasons. 

Elsewhere, Liverpool returned to winning ways against Sheffield United and Arsenal came from behind to beat Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. 

A Gareth Bale-inspired Tottenham cruised past Burnley 4-0, while Crystal Palace and Fulham played out a dour 0-0 draw.

Chelsea 0-0 Manchester United: Red Devils' 'big six' struggles continue

While this result stretched United's unbeaten away run in the league to a whopping 20 matches – the joint-fifth-longest run in top-flight history – there was still a sense of disappointment at full-time. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have now failed to score in their last six league meetings with Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City or Tottenham, with each of their last four such matches finishing goalless. 

This fixture has now finished 0-0 in both matches in a single league campaign for just the second time, the other occasion coming back in 1921-22. 

It marked the first time Chelsea have drawn 0-0 against an opponent home and away in the Premier League in the same season for the first time since 2008-09 against Everton, while United last did so against Aston Villa in 1996-97.

Thomas Tuchel can at least toast becoming just the second coach to not concede a single goal in his first four home matches in the Premier League after Brendan Rodgers in 2011-12 with Swansea City. Including his final two such matches in charge of Paris Saint-Germain, Tuchel has gone six games without conceding at home in league competition.

Sheffield United 0-2 Liverpool: Klopp's men get back on track

After four consecutive top-flight defeats champions Liverpool got their top-four bid back on track at Bramall Lane. 

Curtis Jones opened the scoring with his second goal for the Reds. In doing so, he became the youngest Liverpool player (20 years and 29 days) to score an away Premier League goal since Raheem Sterling in December 2014 against Burnley (20y 18d).

Their second – an own goal by Kean Bryan – was their 7,000th in the English top-flight, becoming only the second team to reach that tally after Merseyside rivals Everton (7,108).

Adrian was in goal for Jurgen Klopp's men and the Spaniard has now been on the winning side in 10 of his 12 Premier League starts for the club, although this was only his third clean sheet. 

The Blades, meanwhile, have now lost 21 games this season. They are the first side since Newport County in the fourth tier in 1970-71 to lose as many as 21 of their first 26 matches in an English Football League season.

Tottenham 4-0 Burnley: Brilliant Bale torments sorry Clarets

Bale was at his best as Tottenham registered their biggest Premier League home win since they thumped the Clarets 5-0 in December 2019. 

His first came after just 68 seconds, which was the fastest goal Burnley have ever conceded in a Premier League match. The previous quickest was a Yerry Mina effort after 99 seconds for Everton in December 2018.

Harry Kane doubled Spurs' advantage to continue his fine run against Sean Dyche's side. No player has scored more Premier League goals against Burnley than Kane (eight, level with Riyad Mahrez), with the England striker involved in 10 goals in his last six league appearances against them (seven goals, three assists).

Lucas Moura added a third before Bale wrapped up the scoring to take his goal involvements to seven in his last four appearances in all competitions. 

At the back, Hugo Lloris celebrated his 100th clean sheet in the competition. He became the 16th goalkeeper to reach that landmark, while he is the ninth quickest to reach it (285 games).

Burnley, meanwhile, have now lost 12 of their last 15 away top-flight matches against Spurs, shipping 48 goals and conceding at least four goals in seven games.

Leicester City 1-3 Arsenal: Gunners storm back to end 'top three' hoodoo

Arsenal ended a four-game winless run against the Foxes in the Premier League, securing their first victory against them in the competition since October 2018. 

It started poorly for Mikel Arteta's side, though, with Youri Tielemans scoring his sixth goal of the season early on. That is as many as he had scored in his first two seasons at the club combined. 

David Luiz pulled the Gunners level before Alexandre Lacazette put them ahead from the penalty spot. The France international has converted all five of his penalties for Arsenal across all competitions, while only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (13) has now netted more goals for the Gunners than Lacazette (11) this term.

Nicolas Pepe sealed the three points and has now equalled his Premier League goal tally from last season, scoring five this campaign in 13 fewer appearances (18 this term, 31 last season).

The result marked Arsenal's first away victory against a team starting the day in the top three of the Premier League since January 2015 (2-0 v Manchester City) – they were winless in their last 14 such games ahead of this clash (D3 L11).

Crystal Palace 0-0 Fulham: Lucky Eagles escape with a point

It should come as no surprise that this game ended goalless given Fulham's penchant for draws this season. 

Just one of the Cottagers' first 21 Premier League games under Scott Parker ended level, but the stalemate at Selhurst Park was their 10th draw in their last 15 top-flight matches. 

They were comfortably the better side and attempted 16 shots. Fourteen of those came in the second period – the most they have had in the final 45 minutes of a Premier League away game since 2003-04 without scoring.

Palace, meanwhile, have somehow managed to pick up four points from their last two league games despite attempting just six shots (facing 41), having only nine touches in the opposition box (compared to 70 by their opponents), and completing just 442 passes (compared to their opponents' 1065).

Indeed, they managed just 33 attempts in their five Premier League matches in February – the lowest recorded by a team in a single month of at least five games since the start of the 2003-04 campaign.

Gareth Bale dismissed the suggestion he has been frustrated during his second stint with Tottenham, insisting he has "been happy all season".

Bale marked just his third Premier League start of 2020-21 in style on Sunday, scoring twice and setting up another goal with a superb long pass as Spurs thrashed Burnley 4-0.

The 31-year-old, signed in loan from Real Madrid in September, opened the scoring after 68 seconds – the quickest goal conceded by Burnley in the Premier League – and Bale has now been directly involved in seven goals in his last four appearances for Tottenham in all competitions (four goals, three assists).

It has been far from plain sailing for the Wales star since his return to north London, however, with fitness struggles having made Jose Mourinho reluctant to hand Bale regular chances to impress in the league.

Mourinho also seemed frustrated when Bale asked to miss Spurs' trip to Everton in the FA Cup earlier this month, as he nursed a slight injury.

Bale, though, affirmed that he has thoroughly enjoyed his time back at the club where he became a global superstar.

"It's not just about scoring. It's about our all-round play and helping the team," Bale told BBC Sport.

"I'm delighted with the goals and the assist and whatever I can do for the team.

"I've been happy all season. In the dressing room I feel comfortable and I'm having fun. I'm happy and I'm sure it's showing on the pitch."

Having scored from two of his three attempts, while also brilliantly teeing up Harry Kane to put Spurs 2-0 ahead, Bale was taken off in the 70th minute.

"I wasn't upset to be substituted," he said. "There are a lot of games to come. It's important to keep building minutes each game."

A player who has clearly enjoyed combining with Bale is Son Heung-min, who created both of the Welshman's goals, becoming the third player to lay on two assists for him in the same Premier League match, after Rafael van der Vaart versus Blackburn Rovers in November 2010 and Aaron Lennon against QPR in October 2011.

Son created a game-high six chances, his joint-most in a single Premier League game, and the South Korea forward was quickto praise his team-mate.

"Bale is, no matter what, the best player in the world," Son told Goal Korea.

"He prepared a lot, and showed a good performance as a starter. He helped our team. I think it's important to go out to the pitch where you've become a player and make a figure that is helpful to the team. I think Bale showed it."

Jose Mourinho felt Gareth Bale turned in the best display of his Tottenham second coming against Burnley and insists every manager in the world would pick the Wales star, fitness permitting.

Bale was handed only his third Premier League start since re-joining Spurs on loan from Real Madrid last September and he responded with two goals and an assist for Harry Kane in a dominant 4-0 win over Burnley.

Persistent fitness struggles have made Mourinho reluctant to give Bale too much action outside of cup competitions but he was thoroughly impressed after the forward put Sean Dyche's woeful Clarets to the sword.

"It's the best Bale that we have had during this season, more confidence, better condition, no bad feelings with injuries," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"His left foot will always be his left foot but the change of speed and direction and winning duels is not something he was able to do three or four months ago. Now he's giving us that."

Bale won five of eight duels contested including two out of two in the air – the only Spurs player to have a 100 per cent record on this metric against Burnley.

The 31-year-old was also perfect in a more headline-grabbing fashion, scoring twice from two shots on target and setting up Kane's 15th-minute goal with his only key pass.

A hectic schedule continues at pace with back-to-back London derbies for Tottenham against Fulham and Crystal Palace this week.

Mourinho plans to continue carefully managing Bale's workload, despite having instincts to the contrary.

"Sometimes some of you like to imagine stories and you have to write stories. Sometimes you like to say things that are not really true," he said at a post-match news conference, referencing allusions to a strained relationship between himself and the Wales international.

"But there is not one manager in the world who does not play Gareth Bale if Gareth Bale is in good condition. There is not one.

"His knowledge of his body and his feelings are going to be fundamental.

"A player who gives me this kind of performance, I want to play him Thursday and I want to play him Sunday and I want to play hm next week against Dinamo Zagreb [in the Europa League].

"But I don't think I can. This is a process that we have to manage day bay day. The day after tomorrow we have to see how he feels.

"He is a very important part of this decision making because he has a lot of experience."

Gareth Bale marked his return to a Premier League starting line-up with a brace in Tottenham's 4-0 thumping of Burnley.

Bale had only been named from kick-off twice in the top flight since re-joining Spurs from Real Madrid last September, but a goal in each leg of the Europa League win over Wolfsberger AC persuaded Jose Mourinho to give the Wales international a chance.

Tottenham's recent run of five defeats in their past six Premier League matches became a fast fading memory as Bale notched after 68 seconds and set up Harry Kane's second.

It was 3-0 after the half hour thanks to Lucas Moura, who kept Dele Alli on the bench despite the England midfielder's similarly impressive European form, and Bale's eighth goal of his second Tottenham spell came in the 55th minute.

Bale wasted little time in making the most of his selection by stealing in behind a sleeping Burnley defence to convert Son Heung-min's cross – Nick Pope having charitably stayed on his line.

There was fleeting defiance from the visitors, with Davinson Sanchez forced to make a last-ditch challenge on Jay Rodriguez.

Pope denied Lucas at close quarters before Bale was given time and space to send a raking ball into Kane's path in the 15th minute.

The England captain advanced infield from the left and rifled home an emphatic finish.

Any lingering doubt over the result was put to bed when Sergio Reguilon's cross clipped off James Tarkowski and Lucas pounced.

Burnley's misery deepened nine minutes into the second half with Bale allowed room for a touch and a clinical finish after Son played the provider once more.

Lucas and Bale made way but Kane and Son remained a nuisance for the Clarets.

Pope pushed over a swerving drive from the England captain before getting down sharply to deny Son.

 

Jose Mourinho has selected Gareth Bale in the Tottenham side to face Burnley in Sunday's Premier League clash in north London, with Dele Alli on the bench.

Bale has only started two Premier League games since re-joining Spurs on loan from Real Madrid last September, while Alli's solitary appearance in a top-flight first XI this term came in the opening-day defeat to Everton when he was replaced at half-time.

However, both men have impressed in Tottenham's recent Europa League outings.

Bale scored in both legs as Mourinho's men dispatched Wolfsberger 8-1 on aggregate, with Alli netting a stunning overhead kick and recording two assists in this week's second encounter with the Austrian side.

Those heroics were not enough to win the England midfielder a place in the team to take on Sean Dyche's team at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, as Bale joins Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura in a four-pronged attack.

Tottenham have lost five of their past six Premier League matches and lie ninth, needing a positive result against Burnley to reignite their top-four hopes.

Gareth Bale looks happier and more confident than ever at Tottenham, according to manager Jose Mourinho.

Wales international Bale has impressed in his last three Spurs appearances, registering two goals and two assists in one start and two substitute appearances.

Those displays, in two legs of the 8-1 aggregate Europa League win over Wolfsberger and in the Premier League loss at West Ham, came after a disappointing start to his loan spell from Real Madrid.

Bale has largely struggled with his form and fitness, falling out of favour with a seemingly frustrated Mourinho.

There was intense speculation over whether Bale had any chance of extending his stay from Madrid for a second season.

But he now seems revitalised, with Mourinho offering a positive update ahead of Sunday's home Premier League game against Burnley.

"The mental side is always a consequence of the physical side," explained Mourinho.

"If a player feels great, if he is training 100 per cent, if the feelings are very good then there are no psychological problems, fears or barriers. 

"When you have these little things and you have a recent history of injuries, these things are normal, they have a consequence. 

"But lately, he is fine, it is just a question of how many minutes he can play, how many days he needs to recover between matches – it is just about that. 

"He looks happier than ever, looks confident. In training you can see that confidence back, the way he hits a shot like for example in the last game, it is a confident shot. 

"A player with fears or feelings in the muscle does not hit that shot, strike the ball that way. That strike means a lot, it means freedom in relation to the brain and the muscle.

"He's in his best condition since he arrived."

Mourinho insisted Bale has the complete trust of everyone at Tottenham when it comes to managing his condition after being asked if the 31-year-old could only play when he was 100 per cent fit.

The under-pressure Spurs boss added: "He's a player with a lot of experience and players with experience, they know their body better than anyone. 

"There is no coach, fitness coach, sports science, medical staff who knows the body better than a very experienced player. 

"Especially a player that had years of small problems, bigger problems and situations that had an impact on the last couple of years of his career. 

"We trust him. We trust his experience, his analysis and everything with him is done with the great participation of everyone, because in the end the best for him is the best for Tottenham. 

"To have him giving us important contributions bit by bit, of course we want that in a more continuous way. 

"We have important Premier League matches, a crucial cup final, crucial matches in the Europa League.

"The more we have Gareth, a player with his confidence, experience, know-how of big moments, the better. 

"So we have to be careful and we have to trust the player who I repeat has a lot of experience."

Tottenham are ninth in the Premier League ahead of a crucial week for Mourinho that sees them face three teams in the bottom half: Burnley, Fulham and Crystal Palace.

Jose Mourinho has hinted he could start Dele Alli and Gareth Bale in the same Tottenham team as Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.

The prospect of those four attacking stars being regulars for Spurs this season appeared remote in the first half of the season.

While Son and Kane thrived, Alli and Bale struggled with their fitness and fell out of favour with Mourinho amid intense speculation over their Spurs futures.

Alli and Bale have been revitalised over recent weeks and all four players were on the pitch with Lucas Moura as Tottenham almost staged a late Premier League comeback in the loss at West Ham last week.

Asked about fans wanting all four to play together, Mourinho told reporters: "Do you give me four names or 11? Do you want to give the other seven? I do the other seven and you do the four!

"You could see against West Ham, it was not from the start of the game, but for 20 minutes or so, we had Bale, Lucas, Dele, Harry, Sonny. So you had it. 

"We didn't turn the result around or score to win that game, but we could leave the game with positive feelings.

"They played well, the interaction was good, we create chances. All of them, they had their ball to score their goal, it was positive.

"When they are in top form, and when they are fit, and when they are ready to play matches, it is never a problem for good players to play together.

"Since the beginning of the season I'm saying that, and I don't forget Gio [Lo Celso], because he is out for two or three months or whatever, I don't forget him, because he also belongs to that quality of the creative players, as well as Tanguy [Ndombele].

"We could even speak about [Erik] Lamela, [Steven] Bergwijn - we have players with these qualities."

Alli was the star of the show on Thursday, scoring a spectacular goal and adding two assists as Spurs thumped Wolfsberger 4-0 in the second leg of their last-32 tie.

Mourinho believes the England international has come through a testing time and feels better after every outing.

"In relation to Dele, when you have players performing like he did, it's easier for the team to play well and when the team plays well it's easier for players to perform well individually," Mourinho said ahead of Sunday's home Premier League match against Burnley.

"I'm happy with him. Difficult period. Sometimes small injuries in accumulation are more difficult than a big injury where after a few weeks or months you are back.

"Small injuries are mentally not good, players getting disappointed, lack of motivation, frustration. He went through all that.

"He came back. We had good conversations, training well, playing minutes or part of matches. Not yet a 90-minute match but he went through periods and basically now 75 or 80 minutes.

"Condition also improving. His feelings after matches always is better. In the first match in Budapest, he played 60 minutes or something like that and he [was] super, super tired after the game.

"This time he played more and two days later he's good."

Tottenham's struggles with injuries have taken a positive turn ahead of the clash with Burnley.

Ninth-placed Spurs are in desperate need of a run of results against Sean Dyche's team, Fulham and Crystal Palace over the next week.

Spurs have lost five of their last six Premier League games, more than they had in their previous 28 in the competition.

Since winning against Arsenal in December, Mourinho's men have taken just 12 points from 13 top-flight games – only strugglers Newcastle United, Sheffield United and West Brom have taken fewer in that span.

Mourinho said: "Now it never stops so we need everybody and, in the particular case of Dele Alli, I'm very happy.

"We need him and we need them all. In a long, long time, we didn't have every player on the pitch and today we did have it - that is great news for us because we have so many matches."

Jose Mourinho is delighted by Dele Alli's return to form after he lit up Tottenham's Europa League win over Wolfsberger with an outstanding overhead kick.

Boasting a 4-1 lead from the away first leg, Spurs were dominant again in the return fixture, a 4-0 success.

Not since 2011-12, when coach of Real Madrid against APOEL, had Mourinho had a team score eight times over the course of a European knockout tie, and Alli was the star of the show.

Wednesday's game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium saw Alli make only his eighth start of the season - only one of which has come in the Premier League, in the opening-day defeat to Everton - but he made the most of his opportunity.

As well as executing a marvellous acrobatic volley - his first non-penalty goal of the campaign - at the end of a move he started, the England international provided two assists, doubling his seasonal tally.

This was the first time ever in a European match Alli had both a goal and an assist and the first time in any Tottenham fixture since December 2018.

These contributions and an impressive all-round display, including two shots, three key passes and 66 touches, suggest Alli is rediscovering his best form under Mourinho.

Since initially impressing when the Portuguese was appointed in 2019, Alli has fallen badly out of favour and was linked with a loan exit in January.

But Mourinho told BT Sport: "He had a difficult period. He had an injury, and at the same time he had an injury, it was the same period of talk, talk, talk about staying, leaving, leaving, staying.

"The market closed, the injury is gone, he started working with lots of motivation, and it's coming. That's what we need."

In his post-match news conference, the Spurs coach added: "The goal I don't need to speak [about] because everyone watched it and I believe around the world, on all these sports TV [channels], people are going to watch it.

"I don't need to talk about it. For me, the globality of the performance is what matters. He played very well. In every aspect of the game, he played very well.

"Of course he's not fresh, of course we can feel his performance, like in the first leg, from minute 55, 60 is going to go down - which is normal in the circumstances; injured, not training for a long time, come in for a couple of weeks.

"But in this moment where we are going to play every three days, 10 matches in March, to have Dele back at this level is amazing."

Substitute Gareth Bale was the beneficiary of one of Alli's assists, sweeping in a stunning third goal for his second of the tie.

Mourinho insists Tottenham's schedule means he does not need to have a first XI, but he acknowledged it would be hard to continue to leave Alli and Bale out of his league line-up.

"These are the headaches that I love," Mourinho said.

"The headaches I don't like are the headaches of selection [when] lots of people are not performing, lots of doubts, negative reasons. These are wonderful problems."

It was not just a night for Spurs' big names, though, as Dane Scarlett replaced Alli nine minutes from time and immediately teed up the fourth goal for Carlos Vinicius, also the scorer of the second.

Scarlett became the first 16-year-old to record a Europa League assist since Kylian Mbappe against Tottenham in December 2015.

Mourinho described the teenager as "a diamond" to BT Sport and added later: "He has immense talent, very good physical development. He's very good, he's going to be very good.

"I hope that nothing is going to destroy that potential. He must have his feet on the ground and his head on his shoulders because he has fantastic talent."

A spectacular goal from Dele Alli helped Tottenham to a 4-0 win over Wolfsberger on Thursday that secured their place in the last 16 of the Europa League.

Alli scored a stunning bicycle kick in the first half before setting up Carlos Vinicius and substitute Gareth Bale in the second as Jose Mourinho's side eased to an 8-1 aggregate victory.

Spurs' third win in nine games in all competitions, capped by a second from Vinicius, was a routine but welcome one, particularly for Mourinho, who was able to rest stars including Harry Kane and Son Heung-min as he looks to put together a string of results and ease some of the speculation over his future.

Spurs have made something of a habit of starting well this season – in fact, no Premier League team can match their tally of 11 goals in the first 10 minutes of matches in all competitions – but they have rarely broken the deadlock with such a flourish.

Alli played the ball out wide to Matt Doherty, brought down his cross and sent a sublime overhead kick out of the reach of goalkeeper Manuel Kuttin and into the left-hand corner.

Vinicius should have made it 2-0 before the break after rounding Kuttin, but the covering Gustav Henriksson did superbly to clear the striker's effort off the line.

He made no mistake early in the second half, though nodding in Alli's deep cross shortly after Eric Dier had been fortunate to escape punishment for taking out Cheikhou Dieng when the forward was through on Joe Hart's goal.

Spurs got their 100th Europa League goal 17 minutes from time, Bale sweeping an emphatic finish high into the net from Alli's pass after Harry Winks had pressed Wolfsberger into giving the ball away in their own half.

Mourinho handed debuts to Marcel Lavinier and Nile John, while 16-year-old Dane Scarlett was given more first-team experience, the latter setting up Vinicius to blast home his second and Spurs' fourth with seven minutes left.

 

What does it mean? Real work starts now for Mourinho

Defeat at this stage of the competition would have piled further pressure onto Mourinho, although their progress looked almost certain after that first-leg win.

As soon as Alli's magical opening goal effectively killed off any lingering Wolfsberger hopes, Spurs' focus will naturally have drifted towards a key few weeks in their season.

With games against Burnley, Fulham and Crystal Palace up next, this is the chance for Mourinho's men to build some momentum before the north London derby on March 14.

Alli emulates Giroud to give Mourinho food for thought

Not willing to be outdone by a London rival, Alli followed Olivier Giroud's overhead kick for Chelsea against Atletico Madrid with a quite superb version of his own to open the scoring.

It was his first goal since December and the only time he has scored in a game he started for the club since last March. Given he then assisted the next two goals, perhaps it could be a step on the road to redemption in the eyes of the man in charge.

Spurs cruise despite flat Dier

This was a game played mostly at a pedestrian pace, but Dier had one or two uneasy moments at the heart of the defence.

He was lucky not even to concede a foul for bringing down Dieng at 1-0 and lost Dejan Joveljic twice thereafter to give Wolfsberger some half-chances.

What's next?

Spurs host Burnley in the Premier League on Sunday, when Wolfsberger are also back in league action at home to Altach.

Jose Mourinho says he is already convinced over Gareth Bale's quality and wants him to play a key part in Tottenham's run-in.

Bale impressed with a goal and assist in a 4-1 victory over Wolfsberger in the first leg of the Europa League last-32 tie last week.

Spurs then suffered a damaging 2-1 Premier League loss at London rivals West Ham on Sunday but Bale came off the bench and produced a lively performance, which included an assist for Lucas Moura

Overall, though, the 31-year-old - who is on loan from Real Madrid - has not made the impact expected of him after he signed to huge fanfare in September.

Under-pressure boss Mourinho insists Bale has nothing to prove, other than his ability to play regular games ahead of another hectic part of the season.

"He doesn't need to convince me of anything," Mourinho said ahead of Wednesday's home second leg against Wolfsberger.

"I am totally convinced about everything. It's not about convincing me, it's about being ready to play the minutes we all would love him to play. 

"It's a process. You feel that in his matches in the last couple of years. We want him of course to be ready to play every minute of every game.

"He is a player with special qualities, you could see against West Ham in the second 45 minutes the positive impact in the quality of the game. 

"He had a cross, he had a couple of assists, he hit the crossbar. He is doing that better and better, but he is not playing 90 minutes, he is not playing every game. 

"We have to manage his evolution. But he has nothing at all to convince me about."

With five losses in their last six league games, ninth-placed Spurs are entering a pivotal period where Mourinho will need Bale at his best.

The manager added: "We play 10 matches - seven plus three - in March. That's seven for us at the club plus three for the national team. 

"Our players are going to be on a 10-match run in March which is something absolutely crazy, and Gareth is a special example of a player we need to take care of. 

"I can tell you that at this moment Gareth is playing all the minutes that he can and that we feel good for his evolution. 

"And what he wants and what we want is in this last part of the season is to play more minutes and more crucial matches than he did."

History suggests a dramatic turnaround in the Wolfsberger tie is unlikely.

No team in Europa League history - ncluding when it was known as the UEFA Cup - has overturned a three-goal deficit in an away second leg during the knockout stages of the competition.

In addition, Spurs have won each of their last four home matches in all European competitions, scoring 16 goals while conceding only twice. 

"We want of course to qualify but when you're in a bad run you need victories," said Mourinho, who also confirmed Toby Alderweireld will play.

"I believe what everyone wants in that dressing room is not only to qualify but also win the match. 

"In football anything can happen but the reality is that a 4-1 victory away from home is good. It's not about losing 3-0 or 2-0 though, so we go there with a strong side.

"We go with a bench to help us turn the direction of a game if we need to and at the same time with three or four young players.

"But our first-team line-up will be very similar to the one that started in Hungary because we want to go strong."

Gareth Bale would start every game for Tottenham if his fitness allowed, according to Jose Mourinho.

Bale came off the bench at half-time for Spurs at West Ham on Sunday, delivering the corner for Lucas Moura to head home before hitting the crossbar himself.

However, he was not able to avert a 2-1 defeat for Mourinho's men – their fifth loss in six as part of a dismal run in the Premier League.

Real Madrid loanee Bale has been restricted to two top-flight starts since making his Tottenham return last September and Mourinho felt unable to add to that number despite the Wales star's goalscoring contribution against Wolfsberger in the Europa League on Thursday.

"I know his quality. I cannot say everything to you, I shouldn't. I don't want," he told Sky Sports when discussing Bale's performance after the match.

"I believe as a coach I don't have to speak so much about the situation, but with a Gareth Bale completely fit and ready to play 90 minutes of every game, of course he would [play].

"We are trying everything with him to recover him to be at a good level. To play 65 minutes like he did Thursday then today he couldn't start the game today, he wouldn't have 90 minutes to give us.

"But I am happy because we know what he brings, he brings his quality.

"[He was] very unlucky [when he hit the crossbar] because in that situation we had a double shot to score but we didn't."

Spurs are languishing in eighth position, with West Ham now nine points better off in fourth having played a game more.

"Before the game I was not looking to the table, I was looking to the game and the objective was to win," Mourinho said, having seen Tottenham's hopes of Champions League qualification suffer another body blow.

"It is very difficult to think about the top four. The top four, five, six teams are getting points. It will be very, very hard. The Europa League is a great motivation to get a Champions League spot and a trophy at the same time.

"The boys fight and when the team fights you can believe good things can happen."

Goals inside the first five minutes of either half from Michail Antonio and Jesse Lingard scuppered Spurs at London Stadium but Mourinho felt fortune did not smile on his side.

"I feel the result should have been a different one, especially in the second half," he added. "That is my feeling and a little bit of deja vu.

"Their defensive line was brilliant. Their centre-backs gave us a very difficult match. We started the game with a mistake and started the second half with another one.

"The team in the second half was trying absolutely everything. We had the chances, hitting the post, great crosses across the face of goal. We had easy shooting positions to score so we should have scored more goals.

"We were the team that tried to play but the boys were not lucky."

Jose Mourinho wants Harry Kane to "play every minute of every game" but says the Tottenham talisman was handed a rest on Thursday to manage his current fitness concerns.

Kane suffered an ankle problem in Spurs' defeat to Liverpool on January 28, and seemed set to miss several weeks, only to be brought back into the fold ahead of schedule to face West Brom on February 7.

It was a move which paid off, Kane scoring in a 2-0 win – Spurs' only league victory from their last five top-flight matches.

After coming on in the FA Cup defeat to Everton and playing against Manchester City last week, Kane did not travel to Budapest for the first leg of Spurs' Europa League round of 32 tie with Austrian side Wolfsberger on Thursday.

Tottenham did the job without their star forward, as Son Heung-min, Gareth Bale, Lucas Moura and Carlos Vinicius secured a 4-1 win and aggregate advantage heading into the reverse fixture.

"He knows I want to play him every minute of every game so it is never a question of a choice," Mourinho told a news conference when asked about Kane.

"I wanted to come here with the best team and the players to give us more opportunities to have a good result but he made the decision based on his feelings which was that to play in this game was a risk with the accumulation of minutes after the injury he had. 

"Myself and the medical department agreed with him, to give him this opportunity to take care of his condition. But I believe Sunday he will be okay and ready."

Kane is Spurs' joint top-scorer in the league this season – alongside Son – with 13 goals, while the England captain has also provided 11 assists.

He has created a total of 32 chances, second only to Son, while 29 of them have come from open play – six more than his South Korean team-mate.

Of the opportunities Kane has crafted for team-mates, 12 of them are big chances, once more a team-high, and his big chance conversion rate is 60 per cent.

Spurs did not miss him against Wolfsberger though, and one player to step up was Bale, who teed up Son's opener before adding a brilliant second.

It was the first time Bale has scored and assisted for Spurs in a match since April 2013, when he did so against Manchester City, and Mourinho – who took the 31-year-old off with just over an hour played – suggested the Real Madrid loanee could be in line for a third Premier League start of the season against West Ham on Sunday.

"One of the reasons why Gareth left the pitch by 64 minutes was to try to have him available for the next match because one of the things that is not easy in relation to his condition is the accumulation of minutes," said Mourinho.

"I believe he has a chance to play the match on Sunday."

Jose Mourinho acknowledged Tottenham's 4-1 win over Wolfsberger was not "incredible", but insisted it will bring positivity to his squad.

Son Heung-min, Gareth Bale, Lucas Moura and Carlos Vinicius scored in an ultimately routine win in Budapest on Thursday, as Spurs took a huge stride towards reaching the last 16 of the Europa League.

 Michael Liendl's 55th-minute penalty complicated matters slightly for Mourinho, but his side were comfortable as they earned just a second win in their last seven games across all competitions.

With a London derby up against West Ham next up for Spurs, Mourinho – who has been eliminated from just one of his 17 previous European knockout ties when winning the first leg, going out in the 2006-07 Champions League semi-final against Liverpool – conceded the performance was not perfect, but believes the victory provides a much-needed boost.

"We had to come and play with ambition which we did. The score should have been more than 3-0 at half-time," Mourinho told reporters.

"In the second half we made that mistake that gave them life. There were some similarities with [the FA Cup tie with] Everton.

"If you're in control and make a mistake you give the opposition life and the game can change – here it didn't change, but the 3-2 was not far from happening.

"We had good control of the game. Lots of chances. I believe the last goal put almost a period on this tie. 4-1 away is a very good result.

"I don't consider this an incredible victory, just a good victory that brings good feelings. By flying back, the plane will be a different plane than after a defeat. Tomorrow morning in training, the same."

Bale turned in an impressive display in the first half, setting up Son's opener before arrowing in Spurs' second himself.

The Wales forward's five goals this season have all been at different stadiums – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Linzer Stadion, bet365 Stadium, Adams Park and Puskas Arena – while it was the first time the 31-year-old has both scored and assisted in a game for Spurs since April 2013.

Son, meanwhile, moved onto 18 goals for the season in total with his opener, matching his tally from last season in all competitions, and the South Korea star, who has enjoyed a supreme relationship with Harry Kane this season, revelled in playing alongside an in-form Bale.

"I have a really close relationship with him," Son said.

"I'm very happy he's getting game time and scored a goal and got an assist. I really enjoy playing with him."

Tottenham took control of their Europa League round-of-32 tie against Wolfsberger with ease as Gareth Bale impressed in a 4-1 victory in Budapest on Thursday.

On the same ground where Liverpool beat RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Tuesday, Spurs dismantled their Austrian opponents with a superb first-half display.

Bale was integral, teeing up Son Heung-min's opener before doubling Spurs' lead with a fine finish.

Lucas Moura put Spurs further ahead and even though Moussa Sissoko's lapse amid a disjointed second-half performance from Spurs allowed Michael Liendl to pull one back from the penalty spot, substitute Carlos Vinicius restored the three-goal cushion.

 

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