But that certainly doesn’t guarantee Bale is going to don the Black & Gold and breeze through MLS, it should be noted.
Just ask LAFC captain Carlos Vela, who re-upped on a Designated Player contract soon after it was announced Bale is arriving alongside legendary Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini – both on Targeted Allocation Money deals. Bale’s deal runs into the summer of 2023 with options through 2024, providing a preparation platform before leading Wales to their first World Cup in over six decades.
"It’s not that easy"
“If he comes in with a good mentality, with a good attitude, he will be really important because he’s a big player,” Vela said of the 32-year-old. “He’s coming from Real Madrid, so I think I don’t have to talk much about him because everybody knows how good he is. The only thing I can say is he will have to come to work because it’s not that easy, like how the people think.”
Vela experienced the Europe-to-MLS jump himself upon becoming LAFC’s first-ever signing ahead of their 2018 expansion year. The Mexican forward, now 33, suited up for Premier League powerhouse Arsenal, Spanish side Real Sociedad and more after leaving Liga MX’s Chivas during his youth career.
Bale’s ledger looks remarkably similar, having developed at Southampton before moving to Tottenham and then Real Madrid, who shelled out a former world-record transfer fee to land his services in 2013. That arc left Vela and Bale squaring off at the club level on several occasions.
Those esteemed backgrounds create a healthy amount of pressure and expectations, LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo said, upon joining an MLS side with a five-point lead in the Supporters’ Shield standings.
“The two we’re adding will very quickly understand that we’re winning games as a group and not through individual qualities,” Cherundolo said of their marquee summertime additions. “If you look at our goalscorers, everybody’s scoring goals with the exception of [goalkeeper] Max [Crepeau]. But everybody is contributing and that’s very important. That should continue.
“Having guys on the field like Gareth, Carlos and Giorgio, mostly Carlos and Gareth, will attract a lot of attention from defenders and is an opportunity for other attackers and midfielders.”
As for when Bale could feature, LAFC are eyeing their El Trafico meeting with the LA Galaxy on July 8. Earlier this week, co-president and general manager John Thorrington said they’re working diligently to get him in Southern California “as soon as possible” to train and feature in the rivalry bout.
In the meantime, Vela’s cautionary words ring true as LAFC chase silverware, something Bale knows well as a five-time UEFA Champions League winner whose nine-year career with Real Madrid saw him win an unprecedented 19 trophies.
“If he comes in a good shape, in a good way, he come with a good attitude, with good mentality, he will be so important for us,” Vela said. “And I hope we can bring that [high] level to the team to win a trophy.”