Gareth Bale eyes long-term MLS stay: 'I've come here to be here as long as possible'

Former Real Madrid forward has joined Los Angeles FC on a 12-month contract

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Wales captain Gareth Bale says his move to Major League Soccer can help him prolong his international career beyond this year's World Cup.

Bale, 32, was introduced to his new Los Angeles FC teammates and supporters at Banc of California Stadium on Saturday as his new side beat LA Galaxy to stay top of the Western Conference.

The former Tottenham and Real Madrid forward has signed a 12-month contract, but Bale said he was hoping for a much longer stay, saying he has "many years to come".

"I haven't come here just to be here for six months, 12 months," Bale said. "I've come here to try and be here as long as possible."

While many see the migration of European players to the MLS as a stopover on the way to retirement, Bale indicated he hopes for an extended stay in the US.

"I want to do as well as I can and I want to try and make my mark on this league, on this team," the five-time Champions League winner said. "I'm looking forward to the future. It's not just a short thing."

Bale, who turns 33 on Saturday, sees MLS as his best path to playing for Wales beyond this year's Qatar World Cup, the nation's first global finals appearance since 1958.

His goal is playing in Euro 2024 and he has an eye on the 2026 World Cup that will be co-hosted by the United States with Mexico and Canada.

"It also gives me the best opportunity to keep going into the next Euros, maybe further, so my plan is to really work hard," Bale said. "We've got a great plan going forward to get me up to speed and hopefully last as long as possible.

"Being here gives me the best possible chance to get to the Euros — and maybe even one more. That's my goal. I feel like I'm here to play a big part."

Bale left Spanish giants Real Madrid last month following the expiration of his contract, collecting 19 trophies during his nine years at the Bernabeu.

He said he hopes to haul in some hardware for LAFC after his first workouts with new teammates.

"My first training session today was amazing, the first step in hopefully a long journey," Bale said.

"I had been eager to get going. I need to get some training under my belt to be ready. The players were really welcoming and hopefully I can help them all."

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Updated: July 12, 2022, 3:55 AM