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Bale joins MLS side, says ‘felt like home straight away’

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Wales captain Gareth Bale said on Friday the chance to bring his expertise and skills to a young Los Angeles FC squad prompted his jump to Major League Soccer (MLS).

“It just felt really like the right thing to do,” Bale said. “It felt like home straight away.”

The five-time UEFA Champions League winner arrived by plane in southern California and hours later saw his new club defeat the visiting Los Angeles Galaxy 3-2 in his first taste of the ‘El Trafico’ derby.

“Seeing the fans live for the first time has more than kept me awake,” Bale told match broadcaster ESPN. “What an incredible reception I had when I came in. Just excited to get started and play in front of these incredible fans.”

The 32-year-old former Real Madrid and Tottenham forward was eligible to play but had barely met his teammates.

Gareth Bale waves to Los Angeles FC fans before a game against the Los Angeles Galaxy at Banc of California Stadium. PHOTO: AFP

Supporters settled for watching Bale smile and wave to them, the crowd chanting his name before the match.

In June, Bale helped Wales reach the World Cup for the first time in 64 years.

Bale said he is ready for the mix of his United States adventure and preparing for the Qatar World Cup later this year.

“The best prep is to play games,” Bale said. “I want to come here. I want to play games and make my stamp and do as best I can to try and help LAFC win a trophy.”

Bale signed a one-year deal through 2023 after a pitch from LAFC bosses.

“It was many things. It wasn’t just one thing in particular,” Bale said. “We had a chat on Zoom about multiple things I could come in and offer – what I can do in football.”

The Welsh player said he could “help with the youngsters because it’s a very young team here, give them advice, seeing what I do in terms of professional standard and try to help them”.

Bale joined a club in only its fifth season on the field but one that hopes to match the sparkle that rival Galaxy once enjoyed with David Beckham.

“Just the project they have here is really amazing,” Bale said. “They have a lot of great young players trying to develop. The club is really on the rise. It’s very new but it’s something that’s really glamorous. It’s just a very attractive club.”