Sunday, August 14, 2022

Reporter notebook: Why Bale’s MLS move is good for all involved

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In his latest reporters’ notebook, Sky Sports News’ Geraint Hughes reveals why Gareth Bale’s move to the MLS side Los Angeles FC is a good one for all involved…

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 didn’t 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.

Take emotion out of Bale playing for Cardiff City prior to the World Cup and it did not become too much of a possibility.

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Gareth Bale is set to sign for MLS side Los Angeles FC on a one-year contract following his exit from Real Madrid

Even before the rumours of a move to Cardiff City started to gather some pace, a transfer to the MLS was already being mooted. Bale needs to get the balance of playing, getting match fit, while reducing the risk of injury and the MLS should provide that balance.

It also gives Bale the perfect environment to get himself into the right shape to lead Wales at the World Cup come November. The climate in terms of weather in California will be ideal, but it is also an ideal climate for him and his family to live and work in a degree of anonymity. The irony of working for a club in Los Angeles, a city where showbiz reigns supreme, is that not too many people will bother Bale or necessarily even know who he is. He will enjoy not being the centre of attention.

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Bale was adamant during interviews I did with him during the last international campaign that any decision he made on his footballing club career would be what was best for him, his wife and family. They were front and centre of any decision he was going to make.

From Wales and Page’s perspective this is a really good outcome. The workload on Bale is manageable, but it will also raise his fitness ahead of the World Cup. Wales have long had total trust in Bale’s ability to manage his own body; the 32-year-old is a fantastic athlete regardless of what you may have read or heard about his fitness.

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He leads a ridiculously healthy lifestyle, he is vegan and teetotal, while also being a natural athlete. He has had a natural sporting ability since his early school years and that has not changed during a long professional football career, so nothing will change on that front between now and the World Cup.

Going to the MLS also allows Bale to be able to dictate how he trains and how he plays. That was always going to be a tricky discussion to have with either a club in the Premier League or another top tier European club.

For Wales, this is a major piece in the puzzle sorted ahead of the World Cup, but there are many players who Page will wish are playing regular club football leading up to Qatar 2022 in November.

Aaron Ramsey is just one player who needs clarity on where he will play come the start of the season, but he is not alone. Many Wales players have not had regular game time with their clubs and with the group stage games at the World Cup coming every four days that could prove difficult to manage.

Earnshaw: A good move for Bale | The MLS will love him

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Gareth Bale’s former team-mate Robert Earnshaw has backed his decision to join MLS team Los Angeles FC following his departure from Real Madrid

Former Wales international Robert Earnshaw on Sky Sports News:

“I think he’s picked the best club he could have gone to in the MLS. Right now, they sit top of the league so it’s great news. I’m down the road so if he needs any help, I can assist him!

“This is a great move for him. He needs to be playing for the WC in a few months and also it’s in season. He hasn’t spent a lot of time playing this past season for Real Madrid, he’s left there now so it’s a new chapter.

“We’re going to see a new Bale in a different country, in the MLS. A few weeks ago, I thought there was a chance. Knowing him and having played with him, understanding his mentality, I think he’s going to love it.

“I was at LAFC a few weeks ago and the atmosphere is amazing there, the fans are amazing, a really good stadium and he will love it there.

“Every location he’s going to go to, it’s going to be competitive. He’s going to find it a challenge, it’s not going to be easy for him because it’s a fast, end-to-end league and you’ve got to be fit. It’ll give him that fitness he needs.

“The MLS is going to love having him. He’s going to bring all his skills and I think he’s going to do very well.”

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