Gareth Bale to LAFC is just another business deal


Gareth Bale to LAFC is just another business deal

Gareth Bale’s arrival in Los Angeles as LAFC’s newest and second-oldest member was described as a shock to those who had forgotten the club signed 37-year-old Giorgio Chiellini two weeks ago. However, Chiellini is coming for the usual reasons everyone comes to the United States to play football – the unpressurized money – while Bale is coming for another reason: to get fully fit for November’s World Cup from Hell.

Say it like this. It’s not for LAFC’s greater glory in its long (aka five years) and obsessive (aka one conference final and two first-round losses) hunt for the elegantly named MLS Cup. It is a business arrangement as most of these contracts are in their mid 30’s and up.

It’s also the fruit of Bale’s long-awaited escape from Real Madrid, where he was largely forgotten for the crime of not being the Bale who had proven his worth at Tottenham. As recently as late March, he was greeted with a chain-mailed backhand from veteran Spanish columnist, poet and essayist Manuel Julia after the team’s 4-0 win over Barcelona, ​​highlights of which were a Bale as a Tick cartoon and this poison flight:

“The Bale parasite hails from the cold and rain of Britain. He settled in Spain, with Real Madrid, where, disguising his intentions, he initially showed diligence and a love of turf, but soon his nature made him suck blood without giving anything in return. More than blood, it sucked and sucked the club’s euros. Unlike others of its kind, such as the flea, louse, or bed bug, the Bale parasite doesn’t cause pain or nausea in its weed, but after sucking, between smiling and fooling around, it shows a tongue-in-cheek disrespect for what it lives on . He laughs, claps, throws himself on the ground, sings, in a kind of humiliating ceremony that at least finally has an end, like all misfortunes.”

It is unlikely that Bill Plaschke will greet Bale in a similar way on the still printed pages of the Los Angeles Times. He will most likely write about Tony Gonsolin or the Lakers’ chances of getting Kevin Durant. But he knows his readership better than we do.

Bale is an odd case in that he has not opted for Welsh club Cardiff City and the Championship’s leg-crushing betrayals for pre-World Cup flattery, nor Saudi-funded Newcastle United and pre-World Cup marketing opportunities. He goes to LAFC, which, pardon the insolence given its seat on the Western Conference table, still looks like it should be pronounced Laugh C. It’s a relatively new club in a city that already has a team (LA Galaxy) and while it seems to have bigger ambitions (see Bale) it’s still an off-brand choice whose main appeal is that Bale doesn’t catch much stick (see Steve Nicol’s casual left-handed consent) unless he’s just goddamn it.

If this looks like MLS pejorative, well it probably is. Don’t get me wrong – or get me completely wrong; what the hell do I care? MLS is light-years from where it was a decade ago, but it remains both a beneficiary and a victim of North America’s newfound love for football at its highest altitudes (Europe) rather than its native middlelings. MLS is growing so consistently that it has found a place, although the Eurosnob part of the audience still has a bigger impact. What he lacks in Gravitas history he makes up for in fields to find his fitness, such clear checks and fan bases that don’t mind Europe’s less sloppy thirds, fourths or fifths.

Which brings us to Bale, or whatever’s left of Bale. He’s been at it for 15 years since he started his first and most successful stretch at Spurs. Despite never being embraced at Madrid (hell, he was considered perishable), he’s still put eight years into it, with the requisite attrition that comes along. His main job at LAFC will be preparing for Wales while earning around $2m in targeted allocation like Chiellini and putting what he can on for conference leaders. Hey, you all know what he’s coming for. If he likes it, he might stay beyond this season. At least he’s behind the days of being likened to a parasitic arachnid. Probably.

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