The Real deal – what pedigree will Gareth Bale bring to Los Angeles FC?
Tom White, PA
Gareth Bale will take his 200-plus career goals to the United States this summer after agreeing a deal to sign for Los Angeles FC.
As the Wales captain prepares to move to Major League Soccer, the PA news agency looks at his career goalscoring record.
Beginning his career with Southampton in the Championship, Bale earned a move to Premier League side Tottenham in 2007 and established himself as a world-class talent.
He scored five goals in 45 Saints appearances despite operating primarily as a left-back, the position in which he also began his Spurs career before moving forward to the wing and eventually into the forward line.
After notching only six goals in his first three seasons in north London, he hit double figures in the next two and then 26, including 21 in the Premier League, in a career-best 2012-13 campaign before leaving for Real Madrid with a record of 56 goals in 203 games for Tottenham.
He of course returned to Spurs on loan for the majority of the 2020-21 season, producing spells of his old form as he scored 11 league goals and 16 in 34 games in all competitions.
Firmly established as an elite attacking talent by the time of his move to Spain, Bale hit double figures in LaLiga in four of his first five seasons before falling out of favour.
He scored 22 for Real in 2013-14 – including six in the Champions League, his best ever return in Europe – while his 19 club goals in 2015-16 all came in the league.
His 21 in all competitions in 2017-18 represents that last time he passed 20 goals in a season, with just 11 league goals for Real after that point – and the same again during his temporary Spurs return.
He did reach 14 in all competitions in 2018-19, 14 including a Club World Cup hat-trick against Kashima Antlers, but just three and one in his final two Real seasons.
His 106 goals for the club featured three in Champions League finals, including a memorable brace against Liverpool in 2018.
Bale is his country’s captain, talisman and record goalscorer, passing Ian Rush’s previous Wales record of 28 with a hat-trick against China in March 2018.
He made his debut aged 16 in 2006 and was their youngest ever player at the time, a record since broken by Harry Wilson, and his longevity sees him trail only Chris Gunter’s 109 caps in the all-time list.
His first goal came against Slovakia as a 17-year-old and he has scored prolifically in qualifying campaigns for successive major tournaments, most notably Euro 2016 where he got seven in the preliminary campaign and three more at the finals – Wales’ first major tournament since 1958.
A hat-trick against Belarus and a play-off brace against Austria were instrumental in ending Wales’ 64-year wait for a World Cup appearance, even if he was not credited with the Andriy Yarmolenko own goal which ultimately saw them past Ukraine and into November’s tournament in Qatar.
The other stars from this side of the pond who have played in the MLS
David Beckham, LA Galaxy
England superstar Beckham ended four years at Real Madrid with a move to LA Galaxy, and went on to spend five years in the States. The 11-cap midfielder started to wind down his remarkable career in Los Angeles, but would then later enjoy short stints at both AC Milan and Paris St Germain to cap his trophy-laden time in boots.
Wayne Rooney, DC United
Ever-bullish England striker Rooney headed out to DC United in 2018, after a one-year return to first club Everton that followed a stellar stint at Manchester United. The one-time Toffees wonder kid passed 300 career goals in the US, hitting the net 23 times and laying on 15 assists in 48 regular-season contests. Rooney would head back to England to join Derby in 2020, a switch would ultimately lead to him managing the Rams.
Steven Gerrard, LA Galaxy
Anfield stalwart Gerrard put an end to 17 years of first-team action at Liverpool when heading to California. Gerrard would only spend one year at Galaxy, before hanging up his boots in 2016. The 114-cap England star then took just one year out of the sport before taking up an academy coaching role at Liverpool, that would precede managerial roles at Rangers and Aston Villa.
Frank Lampard, New York City FC
England star Lampard had already spent a year away from Chelsea at Manchester City by the time he headed to the US. Lampard became Chelsea’s record goalscorer before enjoying an Indian summer campaign in the north west at City. But the free-scoring midfielder would add one more adventure before retirement. New York could not reach the play-offs in Lampard’s first season, before the ex-West Ham youngster then registered the club’s first hat-trick in his second campaign. New York did reach the play-offs in Lampard’s second campaign, but slipped to defeat in the semi-finals. Managerial stints at Derby, Chelsea and Everton have since followed.
Jermain Defoe, Toronto FC
England hitman Defoe sprung a surprise by trading Tottenham for Toronto aged just 31 in 2014. Defoe struck 11 goals in 19 games but the move quickly turned sour, and he was loaned back to Spurs, before making the switch to Sunderland. Productive stints at Bournemouth and Rangers followed, before Defoe finally ended a fine career back at Sunderland.
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