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LAFC sign star attacker Gareth Bale

World Cup-bound marquee name is black-and-gold.

UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 4”The Netherlands v Wales” Photo by ANP via Getty Images

The news is official, as Gareth Bale is officially a member of LAFC.

The Welsh superstar was announced as a signing by the LAFC Co-President and GM, John Thorrington, on Sunday June 26th. Signed on a free transfer and to a TAM contract, Bale’s contract will run through the summer of 2023 with an option for an additional 18 months beyond that.

To facilitate the signing, LAFC traded $75,000 in 2023 general allocation money to Inter Miami for Bale’s MLS discovery rights.

“I am extremely excited for this move to LAFC,” Bale said in a team statement. “This is the right place for me and my family and the right time in my career, and I cannot wait to get started working with the team and getting ready to win more trophies in Los Angeles.”

Bale, 32, is one of the top players of his generation, but his path has seen its share of ups and downs. He turned pro and made his debut with English club Southampton in 2006, remarkably starting his career as a left back with Saints and then when he first moved to Tottenham in 2007. Over time, he became more and more influential and moved up the field to become a versatile attacker at Spurs. In 2013, he was transferred to Real Madrid in what was then a world record fee, and was a key player for six-plus seasons there, playing a key role in winning four Champions Leagues, making him one of the most decorated male players of his generation. In 2020-21, he went on a season-long loan to Spurs, and returned to Real Madrid this past season, where he barely featured, his relationship with the club fractured permanently.

All told, Bale has won five Champions Leagues, three La Liga titles, a Copa del Rey, and three Club World Cups, among other titles. “You don’t win five Champions League trophies, you're not the most valuable player in the world in recent history, if you don't have that hunger” said LAFC Co-President and GM John Thorrington when asked about Bale’s motivations coming into the club. “We’re incredibly excited in the face of very stiff competition worldwide, that he agreed [to sign for LAFC] and we’re excited to welcome him in the coming weeks.”

Arguably, his impact on the international stage has been even greater, believe it or not. Bale is widely regarded as the best male Welsh international of all time, taking a minnow in UEFA to the 2016 Euros, where they had an incredible run to the semifinals, and to a return to the Euros in 2021, where they reached the knockouts again. This year, he has led them to qualification to the 2022 World Cup, Wales’ first World Cup berth since 1958. Unlike many Welsh players before him, he does not shirk international duty and more often than not has risen to the occasion.

Given Bale’s sparkling resumé, it’s a wonder that LAFC have acquired his signature, but there are some mitigating factors. First, Bale has had a pretty lengthy history of injuries, particularly pesky muscular injuries, and he’s doing to do everything in his power to be ready for the World Cup in November.

Second, whether fair or not, Bale was maligned as dogging it entirely during his final stretch at Real Madrid. He was portrayed as uninterested in playing anymore and merely waiting out the end of his contract there. Of course, some similar things were said about Carlos Vela at times in Spain before he lit up MLS, so some of the negativity around Bale may be quite unfair. Time will tell if he is motivated to help LAFC win titles or if he uses this as glorified training for the World Cup.

But given it’s a TAM contract on a free transfer, you can’t beat that deal in terms of risk for LAFC. Hopefully Bale lights it up for however long he’s in MLS, he stays healthy and motivated and puts LAFC over the top to win some trophies.

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