Gareth Bale says he is “extremely excited” by his move to the United States after Los Angeles FC confirmed his signing on a 12-month contract with options through to 2024.
Bale, whose contract at Real Madrid expires in the next few days, announced his move to the Major League Soccer side in a video posted on social media on Saturday.
The Wales captain had been strongly linked with a move to hometown club Cardiff ahead of the World Cup in November.
But Bale chose to head to California instead and said: “I am extremely excited for this move to LAFC.
“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.”
It had been reported that Bale might retire after the World Cup in Qatar, but LAFC co-president and general manager John Thorrington said on Sunday that both parties were hoping to form a “long-term partnership”.
The update that Bale, who turns 33 next month, could extend his career into 2024 would appear to be good news for Wales before their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign starts in March.
The 106-times capped Bale quashed international retirement rumours last summer by saying he would represent Wales for as long as he played football.
Thorrington said: “Gareth is one of the most dynamic and exciting attacking players of his generation.
“Adding a player who brings the talent and experience at the highest levels that Gareth does is an incredible opportunity to continue to improve our club.
“Gareth is highly motivated to continue to win trophies and we are elated that he has made the choice to join LAFC and help lead us in our ultimate goal of winning championships.”
LAFC lead managing owner Larry Berg added: “Bringing a player and a person of Gareth’s calibre to LAFC is a historic moment for Los Angeles, MLS and the game in the United States.”
Cardiff owner Vincent Tan claimed earlier that Bale could make the move to the Welsh capital next summer.
Tan told talkSPORT: “His contract is for 12 months, let’s see what happens.
“Maybe Gareth, by then, will probably want to come back and come home and serve his country, serve Cardiff, his hometown.
“He has never played in Cardiff, he and his family are fans of the club.
“So, hopefully, in 12 months’ time, he is still young, he will only be 34, some players come back and play until they are 40 years old.
“So he has still got a few years he can play and hopefully he will come and play for Cardiff after this (contract with LAFC finishes).”
On the proposed Bale deal, Tan added: “We were very, very keen, he would have been a big coup for us.
“It would have been great for Gareth to play for his hometown, all the Welsh would be very happy if Gareth returned home and played for Cardiff.
“Personally, I think LAFC’s offer was too attractive for him to turn down. But originally he really wanted to come, the money wasn’t the matter.
“We came up with what we thought was a good offer to him, but finally it was very hard to compete when there is a lot of big American advertisers, a lot of commercial deals which were very good for Gareth.
“Initially with Gareth, it wasn’t really the money, he just wanted to help Cardiff and help Wales. That’s why we could negotiate with him.
“He tried his best to join us but eventually I think the offer from LAFC was just too big to turn down. We tried our best but we failed.”
While Bale’s transfer to the US may come as a surprise to some. To those in the Wales set-up, this will not be a shock.
During the last international camp, Bale, Rob Page and anyone else within the set-up were quizzed about a potential transfer to Cardiff City. They did not play down the chance, but they were also just being polite and respectful.
It would have been a huge risk for Bale to take even a short contract to play in the Championship, the risk of being injured either through a mistimed tackle or just the attritional wear and tear of one of the toughest leagues in the world was, in my opinion, never on the cards.
Frank: Not too demanding for an injury-prone player, training in hot weather to prepare for Qatar, great move for him and Wales!
Hiney: Personally I think Gareth Bale should have moved back to English football it would have helped him have higher fitness levels for the World Cup.
Steve: As a Welshman it would have been lovely for Gareth to play for Cardiff… however I am so relieved he isn’t going to subject himself to arguably the most physical league in Europe. Right move for now and also pretty sure he’ll be playing in warmer conditions ready for Qatar.
jay: Good move, fact-finding mission too, with the USA being in Wales’ group he will learn what to expect.
Bale bids farewell to Real Madrid fans
Bale signed off from his “dream” nine-year Real Madrid stint with an open letter to the club’s fans.
His relationship with the club’s fans deteriorated over what was often perceived as a work-shy mentality towards the end of his time in Spain, which was not helped when he was pictured alongside a fan’s ‘Wales, Golf, Madrid’ flag in November 2019 after helping his country qualify for Euro 2020.
Despite that, he was given a rapturous applause as he made his final public appearance as a Real player during their Champions League homecoming in May, and responded with an open letter to the club’s fans on social media.
He wrote on Twitter: “I write this message to say thank you to all my team mates, past and present, my managers, the backroom staff and to the fans that supported me.
“I arrived here nine years ago as a young man who wanted to realise my dream of playing for Real Madrid. To wear the pristine white kit, to wear the crest on my chest, to play at the Santiago Bernabeu, to win titles and to be part of what it’s so famous for, to win the Champions League.
“I can now look back, reflect and say with honesty that this dream became a reality and much, much more. To be a part of this club’s history and to achieve what we achieved while I was a Real Madrid player, has been an incredible experience and one I will never forget.
“I also want to thank President Florentino Perez, Jose Angel Sanchez, and the board for giving me the opportunity to play for this club. Together we were able to create some moments that will live forever in the history of this club and football.
“It has been an honour. Thank you! HALA MADRID!”