Gareth Bale: Wales captain targets Euro 2024 with long-term stay at LAFC

Gareth Bale smiles and gives a thumbs up as he addresses the media
Gareth Bale is Wales’ all-time leading scorer in men’s football with 39 goals

Wales captain Gareth Bale is targeting Euro 2024 – and maybe the 2026 World Cup – after declaring he has joined Los Angeles FC for the long term.

The 32-year-old forward joined LAFC on a free transfer from Real Madrid, with an option to stay for the 2024 season.

Bale dismissed the notion he has only signed in order to be fit for the World Cup later this year.

“Being here gives me the best possible chance to make it to the Euros and, you never know, maybe one more,” he said.

“I still have many years to come. I haven’t come here just to be here for six or 12 months. I’ve come here to try and be here as long as possible.

“I want to do as well as I can, make my mark on this league and this team, and I’m looking forward to the future. It’s not just a short thing.

“It gives me the best opportunity to keep going to the next Euros, maybe further.”

Bale was speaking at his first news conference as an LAFC player at the club’s Banc of California Stadium on Monday, having arrived in the United States last Friday.

Hours after landing in California, Bale watched from the stands as LAFC beat city rivals LA Galaxy 3-2 before being introduced to the crowd after the game.

The five-time Champions League winner described the welcome as “incredible” and, having joined his new team-mates for a first training session this week, he is now looking forward to making his debut for the high-flying Major League Soccer side.

Bale’s comments will also be a source of great relief and excitement for Wales fans, who are looking forward to their country’s first appearance at a World Cup since 1958 in Qatar later this year.

There had been speculation Bale would retire if Wales failed to qualify but, as well as stating his long-term commitment to LAFC, Bale appeared to hint at a desire to play at the 2026 World Cup.

“I haven’t come here for the short term,” he said.

“I think being here gives me the best possible chance to make it to the Euros and, you never know, maybe one more.

“That’s my goal. I’m here to play a big part and I’m really looking forward to getting started.

“I’ve watched the MLS for a long time. The time difference makes it difficult but I always tried to watch it on TV.

“The standard here is really increasing and it’s a lot better than people in Europe think. The league is improving, the stadiums are improving, the teams are improving so it’s a league that’s really on the rise.

“I don’t think anyone sees it [MLS] now as a retirement league. It’s physical, it’s demanding.

“This club is new but it feels like it’s been here forever. I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”