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Major League Soccer (MLS) is set to welcome another world-renowned soccer star after Wales captain Gareth Bale agreed to a one-year deal with Los Angeles FC, the club confirmed to CNN Saturday.
The 32-year-old joins following the end of a glittering spell with Real Madrid this summer. He will not sign as a Designated Player and subsequently his salary will count towards the cap of LAFC.
Bale confirmed the move on social media Saturday, posting a video of himself donning an LAFC jersey and signaling his trademark heart celebration.
“See you soon, Los Angeles,” the posts on Twitter and Instagram added.
Bale signed for Madrid for a then-world record fee in 2013, winning five Champions Leagues, three La Liga titles and one Copa Del Rey as he dovetailed in a feared attacking trident alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.
It was the winger’s performances at English club Tottenham Hotspur that had caught the eye of Los Blancos, with Bale crowned the Premier League’s Player of the Season in 2013 and twice winning the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award while in North London.
The six-time winner of the Welsh Footballer of the Year award arrives in LA having helped guide his country to their first FIFA World Cup finals in 64 years earlier this month. Bale’s deflected free-kick secured a 1-0 victory over Ukraine in the delayed qualifier, stamping Wales’ ticket to Qatar in November.
Bale’s arrival marks the second high-profile signing of the summer by LAFC, after veteran Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini confirmed his move to the franchise earlier this month.
Chiellini forged his name as one of the best center-backs in the game during a decorated 18-year spell with Juventus, lifting nine Serie A titles and five Coppa Italia trophies. The 37-year-old captained Italy to victory at EURO 2020, but announced his retirement from the national team in March following his country’s shock World Cup qualifying exit to North Macedonia.
Both Bale and Chiellini will join officially on July 7 when the Secondary Transfer Window opens and could make their debuts the following day when LAFC face city rivals LA Galaxy.
The pair’s arrival continues the trend of some of the game’s biggest names joining the MLS in the twilight years of their careers.
David Beckham’s landmark signing for the Galaxy in 2007 paved the way for a string of big-name stars to follow suit, with Premier League icons Thierry Henry, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, and Didier Drogba all spending spells in the US.
Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic enjoyed a prolific spell with the Galaxy in 2018 before returning to former club AC Milan, the team 2007 Ballon d’Or winner Kaka and legendary Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo also played for before moving to the MLS later in their careers.
Chiellini could face off against long-time international teammate Lorenzo Insigne this season, with the 31-year-old winger joining Toronto FC after a 12-year stint with Italian club Napoli.