Ever since Gareth Bale helped make sure that Wales would play within the World Cup for the primary time since 1958, there was just one query on the minds of his countrymen: For which club would he sign, and play, to arrange for the tournament?
The reply arrived Saturday: After running out his contract with Real Madrid and flirting with a return to his hometown, Bale, 32, has agreed to affix Los Angeles F.C. in Major League Soccer in a move that can offer him regular playing time, loads of sunshine and as many as five consecutive months of matches to sharpen his form before the World Cup kicks off in Qatar in late November.
L.A.F.C. teased a world signing on its social media accounts on Saturday but didn’t reveal the player. An M.L.S. official aware of Bale’s decision to affix the league, though, confirmed that an official announcement of his signing was imminent, perhaps as soon as Sunday.
Along with his Real Madrid contract expiring this summer, Bale announced his intent to depart Spain and has been available to any team as a free transfer. A five-time Champions League winner with Madrid, which had acquired him in 2013 for what was then a world-record fee of 100 thousands and thousands euros (just over $105 million), he had turn out to be an afterthought on the club lately, playing rarely and feuding openly with the team and its fans all while rejecting any effort to maneuver on.
Bale had flirted with a move to Cardiff City in his hometown in recent weeks before selecting M.L.S., and Los Angeles, when it got here time to place pen to paper.
While a return to Wales would have been a preferred and symbolic — Bale was born in Cardiff — his selection of Los Angeles may higher suit his World Cup preparations. M.L.S. has moved its schedule forward this season to accommodate the World Cup, ensuring Bale a gentle weight loss plan of games from July through October, after which either a playoff push or a transient break before the World Cup.
L.A.F.C. currently leads the Western Conference standings, and it entered Saturday with the league’s best record. Adding Bale and the veteran Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini — whose introduction is about for next week — to a team that already features the Mexican star Carlos Vela could make L.A.F.C. an M.L.S. Cup favorite this fall.
Once his signing with M.L.S. becomes official, Bale may very well be positioned to make his debut for his recent team against the crosstown Los Angeles Galaxy on July 8. That derby, often known as El Tráfico in a wink at town’s perpetual headache, has been home to major moments previously: In 2018, the Swedish star Zlatan Ibrahimovic entered the sport, his first in M.L.S., and scored one of the crucial famous goals in league history.
Bale’s most important focus, though, will likely be the World Cup. Wales opens the tournament on its first day, Nov. 21. Its opponent that day? America.