Jose Mourinho has been told how to get the best out of Gareth Bale at Tottenham by Jermaine Jenas, who says the Welshman "needs to be loved".
Bale has struggled for form and fitness since returning to Spurs on loan from Real Madrid in September, with Mourinho still looking for the best way to utilise the talents of a man once considered to be among the best players of his generation.
The Welshman has only recently started to prove he can still deliver the goods in the final third, with Jenas noting that his ex-team-mate tends to thrive when his manager puts an arm around him.
What's been said?
“Gareth on the pitch is a killer. But to get that out of him, during my time at the club, he had to be loved. He wasn’t one to challenge. He wasn’t one to lay the gauntlet down to sort that out," the former Tottenham midfielder, who played with Bale in north London between 2007 and 2013, told BBC Radio Five Live.
“Then all of a sudden, to be fair to Harry [Redknapp], he stuck him in there and forced him to play. And I used to hear it week in week out, ‘give it to Gareth’.
“He used to get it and he would be like ‘run him’, and the more he did it, the more confidence he got and the more he realised he was the go-to man in the team.
“He developed into a monster on the pitch and he was floating onto the pitch like a god, like no one could touch him, because he had that level of confidence and love that was given to him from the manager."
Jenas added on Mourinho's relationship with Bale: “The Mourinho side of things, maybe it didn’t go that way, but maybe Jose has worked that out. If I play him, and give him a bit of love, that’s how I get the best out of him.
“They didn’t know each other, essentially. He was in awe of what Gaz was doing [earlier in his career], so the love for the player is there and he knows that version of the player.
"He just needed to find a way to get the confidence in Gaz. I don’t care how old he is, Gaz is still a kid at heart and he needs that love to perform, and that is all it is.”
Bale's record for Spurs in 2020-21
Bale has had to wait patiently for opportunities under Mourinho, but finally seems to be rediscovering his best form after getting back to full fitness.
The 31-year-old has scored eight goals in 21 games for Spurs this term, including four in his last five outings - with a stunning brace in a 4-0 win against Burnley last weekend serving as a timely reminder of his unique abilities.
Bale will be back in contention for a place in Mourinho's starting XI when Tottenham play host Crystal Palace on Sunday.
The Lilywhites will turn their attention back to the Europa League four days later, with a round of 16 first leg tie against Dinamo Zagreb on the cards.