July 20, 2022

Gareth Bale joins MLS Western Conference leaders LAFC

Written By Sen Nguyen

'Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order.' The infamously bantering flag dedicated to Gareth Bale, one inadvertently kindled by Real Madrid sporting director Pedja Mijatovic, may finally be put to rest as the Welshman is bound to depart Los Blancos. As his contract expired on Jun. 30, Bale joined Los Angeles FC (LAFC), the club currently atop the Western Conference in Major League Soccer (MLS).

Tom Bogert, an MLS journalist, first broke the news on 25th June via their website, giving the specificities of the deal: The contract between Bale and LAFC will run for 12 months with an option for another 18 months, keeping him at the club through June 2023 and, if the extension is triggered, December 2024. On top of that, the California-based team will have to pay Inter Miami CF $75,000 in 2023 General Allocation Money for the player’s discovery rights. The Welsh attacker would not take up a Designated Player spot as he would be signed using the team’s Targeted Allocation Money. His annual wage is said to be $1.3 million.

As the LA Times also reported, LAFC’s game-time guarantee proved decisive for Bale’s choice. The goal is to get up to fitness for Wales at the 2022 World Cup, whose campaign kicks off with a match-up against the United States.

Despite having its inaugural season in 2018, LAFC was quick to eclipse its well-established rival LA Galaxy. Hitting the ground running, the club earned a third-place finish in the regular season before dropping a 2-3 loss to sixth-place Real Salt Lake in the first playoff round. LAFC pulled off a magnificent run in the second season, finishing atop the conference with 72 points, 16 points ahead of second-place Seattle Sounders. However, the Sounders were the eventual MLS Cup Champions, who dealt LAFC a knock-out blow in the conference final, a 3-1 comeback win right in Los Angeles.

With the fifth season, LAFC sits atop the MLS with 36 points from 17 games played. It shares the home ground, Banc of California Stadium, with the Los Angeles Angels, the female counterpart to boast regular 22,000-fan home attendances.

Managed by Steven Cherundolo, a former United States international and a one-club player of the German outfit Hannover 96, LAFC has been rotating players around a 4-3-3 system more than they turn formations. While there have been variations, including a 4-1-4-1 and 3-1-4-2 adoption, the recurring front three in a 4-3-3 has featured Uruguayan winger Brian Rodríguez, versatile Mexican attacker Carlos Vela, Ghanaian winger Kwadwo Opuku. In LAFC’s derby defeat to LA Galaxy in April, Rodriguez suffered an injury that sidelined him for a month, allowing Colombian striker Cristian Arango to establish himself as a starter. Most notably, Arango scored in each of the last four MLS games.

For transfers, Vela recently re-signed with the club as a Designated Player until 2023, while Rodriguez currently occupies a young Designated Player slot. The departure of winger Diego Rossi to Turkish outfit Fenerbahce left a Designated Player slot vacant, giving the club leeway on the transfer market. LAFC has also penned a deal with the Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini, like Bale, involving Targeted Allocation Money.

How will Bale bolster the pre-existing statute of LAFC?

Approaching 33, Bale may not be the most enthusiastic at pressing the opposition. Bale registered fewer tackles and interceptions per 90 minutes than all but three of his teammates. According to Fbref, MLS-wise, LAFC is second for the number of tackles made and fourth for the number of times they pressed the opposition in the attacking third. Therefore, his commitment to winning back the ball may burden his teammates. Bale’s fitness and history with injuries may also be a concern as he played just seven matches overall, including two in the Champions League, scoring one goal in the 2021/2022 campaign.

However, Bale can still provide Cherundolo with the options he needs in the attack. In the past season, Bale logged the third-most shots per 90 minutes and the second-most shots on target per 90 minutes compared to the rest of the Real Madrid team. One season prior, during his loan spell back at Tottenham Hotspur, he made 34 appearances, scoring 16 goals and notching three assists in all competitions. This was a testimony of the Welshman counting on experience, flair and finesse to perform, evidently with Spurs in 2020.

Bale’s versatility allows him to be in any position up front. His eminence is irrefutable with five Champions League titles, three La Liga titles, three UEFA Super Cup and other achievements, both individually and collectively. It is also worth noting how prominent Bale’s presence is when compared to other players of his generation. Bale’s goals clinched not just games but titles, his sheer pace and athleticism shooked stadiums, and his brilliant showcase of craft and vision got the crowd roaring. Even off the field, the star brings the commercial lure with sponsors ranging from Adidas and Footlocker to Konami and EA Sports.

For a front line that is already firing in the most goals compared to any other MLS side, Bale can be a catalyst for LAFC’s breakthrough as they challenge for the 2022 MLS Cup. The Welshman, with the fellow arrival Giorgio Chiellini, is bound to debut for LAFC as soon as they are eligible on Jul. 8 in a derby with rivals LA Galaxy.

Previous Post

Lisandro Martinez at Manchester United- a blessing in disguise?

Next Post

How will Milan Škriniar transform Chelsea

Related Articles

  • June 29, 2022

    How has the Dutch League shaped Eric Ten Hag for Manchester United?

  • July 08, 2022

    Lionel Messi’s agent refutes claims of Inter Miami stake purchase and a potential move

  • July 11, 2022

    Best U21 Attackers in Eredivisie

  • July 11, 2022

    Gabriel Slonina: The goalkeeping prospect Chelsea and Real Madrid clash for

  • July 11, 2022

    FIFA announces hosts cities for World Cup 2026

  • July 12, 2022

    Juventus and Italy legend Giorgio Chiellini signs with LAFC

  • July 13, 2022

    Standout players in Eredivisie outside the ‘Big 3’: season 2021-22

  • July 18, 2022

    MLS Match Report- Los Angeles FC vs FC Dallas

  • July 20, 2022

    Lisandro Martinez at Manchester United- a blessing in disguise?

  • July 20, 2022

    Gareth Bale joins MLS Western Conference leaders LAFC

  • July 21, 2022

    How will Milan Škriniar transform Chelsea

  • July 25, 2022

    ‘Vietnamese Messi’ Nguyen Quang Hai pens deal with Ligue 2 side Pau FC

  • July 26, 2022

    LAFC triumphs over LA Galaxy in the enthralling derby at Banc of California

  • July 27, 2022

    Federico Bernardeschi – Toronto’s Italian Job

  • July 27, 2022

    Players to watch: Top 3 Eredivisie wingers in the 2022/2023 season

  • July 28, 2022

    How will Tyrell Malacia compare with Erik Ten Hag’s left-backs

  • July 29, 2022

    Top three Eredivisie Midfielders to look out for in the 2022/23 season

  • August 01, 2022

    Five MLS defenders to watch in the 2022- season

  • August 01, 2022

    LAFC 2 – 1 Seattle Sounders – Bale and Chiellini Win on Home Debut for the Black and Gold

  • August 02, 2022

    MLS Match Report: FC Dallas vs LA Galaxy

  • August 02, 2022

    DFL Super Cup 2022 Report: RB Leipzig vs Bayern Munich

  • August 02, 2022

    MLS Match Report: Nashville SC vs Vancouver Whitecaps

  • August 03, 2022

    MLS Match Report: Sporting KC vs Austin FC

  • August 03, 2022

    Summer 2022: A summer of the overhaul for Tottenham that should send fans, and opposition frenetic

  • August 03, 2022

    How Man City could line up Erling Haaland and Kalvin Phillips with their current squad

  • August 03, 2022

    Players to watch: Top Three Eredivisie wingers in the 2022/2023 season

  • August 03, 2022

    MLS Match Report: San Jose Earthquakes vs Real Salt Lake

  • August 04, 2022

    An active transfer window to fire Sparta Rotterdam up on the Eredivisie table

  • August 04, 2022

    Bergwijn, Kezman, Altidore: Premier League’s 8 Biggest Eredivisie flops

  • August 04, 2022

    England defeat Germany to win the European Championships

  • August 04, 2022

    Barcelona have made a significant stride forward with the signing of Jules Kounde

  • August 04, 2022

    Premier League names Alison Brittain as its first female chair

  • August 05, 2022

    MLS Match Report: Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas

  • August 05, 2022

    Jesus Ferreira – A USMNT Star in the making

  • August 05, 2022

    MLS Match Report: San Jose Earthquakes vs Inter Miami CF

  • August 05, 2022

    Top 3 U-25 wingers in La Liga for 2022-23 season

  • August 05, 2022

    How will Giovani Lo Celso’s return benefit Villarreal?

  • August 05, 2022

    Chelsea Eyeing Villareal defender Pau Torres for a £50m Move: Good choice for Tuchel?

  • August 06, 2022

    An Ode to Aaron Ramsey

  • August 06, 2022

    Steffen Baumgart- The man behind FC Koln’s recent resurgence

  • August 06, 2022

    Gareth Bale's debut for LAFC

  • August 06, 2022

    Aaron Long: Red Bull’s New Centre Back

  • August 08, 2022

    MLS Match Report- Portland Timbers vs Nashville SC

  • August 08, 2022

    Thomas Tuchel's biggest bet on Raheem Sterling for Chelsea transformation

  • August 08, 2022

    Dutch League Match Report- Fortuna Sittard vs AFC Ajax

  • August 08, 2022

    Dutch League Match Report - PSV vs FC Emmen

  • August 08, 2022

    Ryan Gravenberch - How Ajax shaped him

  • August 09, 2022

    Calvin Bassey: Continuing the Nigerian dynasty at Ajax

  • August 09, 2022

    How will Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit impact Manchester United

  • August 09, 2022

    MLS Match Report- Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs Houston Dynamo

  • August 09, 2022

    Nathan Byrne heads to the MLS with Charlotte FC

  • August 09, 2022

    MLS Match Report: Charlotte FC vs Chicago Fire FC

  • August 10, 2022

    Dutch League Match Report- NEC vs FC Twente

  • August 10, 2022

    MLS Match Report- Real Salt Lake vs Los Angeles FC

  • August 10, 2022

    MLS Match Report- Sporting Kansas City vs LA Galaxy

  • August 10, 2022

    LA Galaxy sign FC Barcelona midfielder Riqui Puig

  • August 10, 2022

    From Haaland’s double score to Ten Hag’s debut defeat- Here’s all from the first week of Premier League

  • August 11, 2022

    Alex Telles ‘didn’t think twice’ before leaving Man United and joining Sevilla FC

  • August 11, 2022

    Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid join race for RB Salzburg’s Benjamin Sesko

  • August 11, 2022

    Top 5 clubs with most UEFA Super Cup Title

  • August 11, 2022

    Nottingham Forest’s promotion, Arsenal’s win, Aston Villa’s defeat- all from the first week of Premier League

  • August 11, 2022

    MLS Match Report- RD 25 - MLS All-Stars vs Liga MX All-Stars

  • August 11, 2022

    Carlos Vela: The journey from Arsenal to LAFC

  • August 12, 2022

    UEFA Super Cup Review- Real Madrid vs Frankfurt

  • August 12, 2022

    The making of one of MLS’ best strikers - Josef Martinez

  • August 12, 2022

    Is Marc Cucurella the versatile player Chelsea wanted?

  • August 12, 2022

    How will Denis Bouanga fit with the current LAFC squad?

  • August 12, 2022

    Why has Manchester United suddenly gone Dutch?

Comments

Post a comment