Jose Mourinho insists Gareth Bale is NOT the same player who left Tottenham in 2013

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Jose Mourinho has extinguished hopes that Gareth Bale will rediscover the form he showed in 2013 to earn his transfer to Real Madrid by admitting that no player – even Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – can turn back the clock.

Bale was among a number of players who disappointed in the Europa League on Thursday night as Tottenham lost 1-0 away to Royal Antwerp.

Mourinho remained furious, admitting he wanted to make 11 halftime changes, but when Bale’s gloomy performance was brought up, the Portuguese tried to be philosophical about Bale’s second spell at the club.

Gareth Bale (right) suffered a lot when Tottenham lost to Royal Antwerp in the Europa League

Cristiano Ronaldo developed as he got older and is no longer the winger he once was

Lionel Messi remains a sensational talent but changed his role to be much more central

Jose Mourinho reiterated that even Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and Lionel Messi (right) decline

“I repeat the same thing – seven years is a long, long, long gap,” Mourinho said. “So which player in the world is the same as seven years ago?

“Sometimes they’re not better or worse, they’re just different players. For example, you look at Ronaldo and Messi and compare them to seven years ago.

“They play in different fields, different positions. They transform their qualities to try to explore their qualities in other responsibilities in the tactical system of their teams.

“I think that happens with the majority of players, so for sure he’s a different player. “

Bale used the Europa League as a testing ground for his physical condition, with Mourinho accepting that the Welshman still finds it difficult to play 90 minutes.

Bale sparkled at Tottenham in 2013 but struggled to be the same player this time around

It was limited to a peripheral role and its impact was minimal on the side

He continues to recover from a knee injury and has therefore been limited to a peripheral role since arriving on loan from Real Madrid.

But Mourinho remains optimistic that, on the eve of Sunday’s game against Brighton, Bale is “getting better” and “hopefully getting back” to his best soon.

“Every word I said on Wednesday, I believe in them because he works very, very hard. He’s improving, ”Mourinho said.

“He hasn’t had a single injury since coming back from the last one. He didn’t miss a single workout.

“Playing 90 minutes is always tough, playing at high intensity is always tough, but it’s getting better. He is improving and I hope he will come back to a better level soon.

Japhet Tanganga is the only one absent on Sunday due to injury as he recovers from a thigh problem.

Mourinho has defended the Welshman and revealed he is 'improving' on the training ground

Mourinho defended the Welshman and revealed he is ‘improving’ on the training ground

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