Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino has leapt to the defence of Gareth Bale as the Welshman comes under mounting pressure at Real Madrid.

Bale, 25, was once again singled out for scathing criticism as Real suffered a 2-1 defeat in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final meeting with Juventus on 5 May.

Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane led the criticism, claiming the Wales international gave his side "absolutely nothing" in their defeat in Turin.

Speaking to the press on 7 May, Spurs boss Pochettino joked the club would gladly take the world's most expensive player back should things continue to sour at the Santiago Bernabeu.

And on a more serious note, the former Espanyol boss warned Bale still needs time to acclimatise to football and life in a new country.

"It is not easy when you arrive at a huge club like Real Madrid, and the way they play," Pochettino said. "He has the quality to make a success, he just needs time. When Zidane went to Real Madrid, the first season was very difficult for him, with a lot of critics. He needed time to adapt.

"The cultures are very different between England and Spain. It is very difficult for English players to arrive in Spain.

"It is better when you come from Spain to England, when you go there, you need one or two seasons to adapt. I think in England it is better to develop your passion in your job as a player or manager, but in Spain, for the weather, for the culture, it is difficult to adapt when you come from England. He just needs time.

"If he is not comfortable in Madrid, here we keep his place warm back here. We are open to him."

Tottenham take on Stoke City in their next Premier League game on 9 May.