Gareth Bale is "nowhere near" the player he once was, according to Darren Bent, who is sceptical over whether the Tottenham winger will ever be able to rediscover his best form.
Bale has struggled to make an impact at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium since returning to north London from Real Madrid in September.
The 31-year-old agreed to re-join on a season-long loan after falling out of favour at Santiago Bernabeu, but has so far only managed to contribute one goal in seven appearances across all competitions.
The Welshman was left on the bench as Jose Mourinho's side secured an impressive 2-0 home win over Manchester City on November 21, and was an unused substitute once again during a 0-0 draw with Chelsea on Saturday.
Most of Bale's minutes have come in the Europa League, with his next outing likely to come when Spurs take in a trip to LASK on Thursday, and Bent thinks a man who scored 56 goals in 203 games during his first spell at the club is running out of time to prove his worth.
“It’s a gradual process but at the same time it’s a year loan," the former Tottenham striker told talkSPORT. "For me, the question you’ve got to ask is how long is Mourinho prepared to give him before he goes 'this is not working'.
“All the talk has been about [Heung-min] Son and [Harry] Kane being superb, but when they get Bale back, when Bale gets back to himself, Bale this and Bale that. But right now he’s nowhere near the Bale we can remember.
“He’s not played consistently for about three years and he’s had big injuries as well, so that Bale may never come back.”
Bent went onto suggest that Spurs may have to consider cutting Bale's loan short if his performances do not improve, with it his belief that keeping hold of him could end up having a detrimental impact on the squad.
“Do you think there’s a point in the season where he could become a distraction? They have to make a decision," he added. "It’s a year loan and if it continues like this what do Spurs do? Send him back to Madrid or keep him?
“So for me how long are they going to give him and how long are the fans going to give him before they go ‘listen, we can’t keep waiting on him to come back'… [Steven] Bergwijn needs to be playing and Lucas Moura need to be playing.
“It’s kind of a strange one, but at the minute the signs don’t look great.”