Before signing with Los Angeles FC in a deal that turned heads around the world Monday, Real Madrid star Gareth Bale had been in preliminary talks with Inter Miami. The club placed him on its “MLS Discovery List,” but the sides could not come to terms, according to multiple sources familiar with the negotiations.
Per league rules, clubs can have up to seven players on their priority wish list. After flirting with a few teams in Europe and MLS, Bale opted to join LAFC, which acquired his discovery priority rights from Inter Miami in exchange for $75,000 in 2023 General Allocation Money (GAM).
Once the world’s most expensive player, Bale agreed to a $33 million pay cut to move to LA and will make less than $1.61 million on his one-year deal, so he will not count as a Designated Player. He was signed with Targeted Allocation Money (TAM), which means his salary falls between the regular roster maximum of $612,500 and the TAM ceiling of $1.61 million.
His contract includes options through 2024, so his salary would likely increase significantly into the DP category after this season.
According to sources, his initial asking price was closer to $5 million, so that was out of Miami’s price range and other aspects of the deal also didn’t work out. Miami is expected to sign one or two attacking players in the coming weeks to help make a push to the playoffs.
Bale, who turns 33 in July, is five-time UEFA Champions League winner and spent the past nine years with Real Madrid, where he won an unprecedented 19 trophies. He scored in the 2014 and 2018 Champions League finals, was named the Best Player of the 2018 Champions League and won the Golden Ball at the 2018 Club World Cup.
He is considered one of the greatest Welsh players of all time, has played 105 times for his national team, scored 28 goals with 22 assists and led Wales to the 2022 World Cup — its first appearance in 64 years.
There was speculation he would retire after a disappointing season with Real Madrid, but once Wales qualified for the 2022 World Cup, he wanted to play on and stay in shape for the tournament, which kicks off in Qatar in late November. Wales is in the same group as the United States, England and Iran.
The MLS regular season runs until October, with the playoffs and MLS Cup done in early November, so it was the perfect schedule for Bale. He is looking for more playing time (and love from the fans) than he was getting in Madrid of late.
“I am extremely excited for this move to LAFC,” Bale said. “This is the right place for me and my family and the right time in my career, and I cannot wait to get started working with the team and getting ready to win more trophies in Los Angeles.”
LAFC has the league’s best record (10-3-3) and is expected to make a deep playoff run.
“Gareth is one of the most dynamic and exciting attacking players of his generation,” said LAFC co-president and general manager John Thorrington. “Adding a player who brings the talent and experience at the highest levels that Gareth does is an incredible opportunity to continue to improve our Club. Gareth is highly motivated to continue to win trophies and we are elated that he has made the choice to join LAFC and help lead us in our ultimate goal of winning championships.”