LA LA PLANNED
Bale has taken the big gamble of swerving the muck and bullets of the Prem or Championship... to be California dreaming of World Cup glory
GARETH BALE will bank three months of competitive football ahead of the World Cup by joining Los Angeles FC – and could make his debut against LA Galaxy on July 9.
Bale helped steer Wales to their first finals in 64 years with a play-off victory over Ukraine.
But he has made just four starts for Real Madrid in the past year and needed to move on in order to get fit for the finals in Qatar, with their first game against the USA on November 21.
The winger was earning £600,000 a week at the Bernabeu but managed just 97 minutes for the club since last August – and only 23 minutes in all competitions from the turn of this year.
Those included two spectacular goals in a play-off semi-final against Austria, then the free-kick against Ukraine which took the Welsh to only their second World Cup finals and the first since 1958.
Bale, 32, will join the US club when his Real Madrid contract expires at the end of this month, with the MLS transfer window opening on July 7.
The MLS regular season runs until October 9, meaning three months of competitive football for Bale – but LA FC are well placed to make the play-offs, which will extend the campaign until November 5.
It is a calculated move from the Welsh legend, who has targeted the World Cup as perhaps his grand finale to an international career as arguably his nation’s greatest player.
That debate rages, with John Charles often considered the all-time best, but Bale is certainly Wales’ biggest player of the past 60 years, with a storied history since joining Real for a then world record fee of £85million in 2013.
In his nine years with the club, he has won five Champions League winners’ medals, three La Liga titles and scored more than 100 goals, including a spectacular finish in the 2018 final win over Liverpool and the decisive goal in the final defeat of Atletico Madrid in 2014. He also scored in the penalty shootout win, again against Atletico, in 2016.
But it is success with Wales which now drives him and he is targeting a run deep into the knockout stages in Qatar.
He has signed a one-year deal with the California club, with an option to extend for a further 18 months and has signed on a Targeted Allocation Money deal, which allows salary payments beyond the league caps.
Bale had been linked with a return to Tottenham after a loan there last season (left) and had spoken with home-town club Cardiff about a return.