GARETH BALE’s exciting transition to MLS may not have happened without the involvement of Hollywood Will Ferrell.
Contact was made about a move to Los Angeles FC for the first time after Wales beat Ukraine to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar, but things quickly escalated after interference from the Anchorman star.
LAFC has a star-studded royal family that also includes basketball legend Magic Johnson.
Cardiff owner Vincent Tan, who tried to bring Bale back to Wales after his contract with Real Madrid expired, used to own a large stake in the club but sold most of it in 2020.
It was a touch of stardom that helped convince Bale to move to MLS as he prepared for Qatar.
“I can’t remember exactly what stage the conversation was at, but he did get a personal message from Will Ferrell,” said John Thorington, a former Manchester United academy player and now co-chair and general manager at LAFC.
Bale, who will line up against DC United from Wayne Rooney last night, scored two goals in five matches including a stunning singles finish against Real Salt Lake.
LAFC had already signed Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini following his departure from Juventus, but the relegation to Bale was a different kettle of fish.
“I will tell you the absolute and honest truth, until I saw an autograph that I could not believe was going to happen,” Thorrington said.
“I commend our staff, as well as Gareth and his representatives, who have been wonderful to work with all along.
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“It was at the end of the Wales-Ukraine game.
“I got a letter from the head of the agency in North America asking if we had any interest. Then it was pretty simple.
“From there, I wouldn’t even call it convincing [him], I would just say it was an honest and genuine exchange of “What do you want for the next step in your career?” Whether it’s the World Cup finals [or not].
“What do you want then? What can we offer you and align the two? And on the field off the field, I think everything is in line with where we can execute the deal.”
MLS clubs operate under a player specific rule – called the Beckham rule – which allows clubs to sign three players outside of their salary cap.
These slots are usually used to attract the likes of Bale to the MLS, but the Welshman is not one of three in LAFC, and instead gets paid that comes under the cap.
Despite that, facing the competition, this season’s MLS favorites knew they were offering something different.
Thorrington said: “I don’t think we’ve had a competition that has ever been the same as what we’ve had.
“I knew it was a slightly different conversation in that I’m trying to say here two of the same thing and trying to choose between the two.
“We had a completely different opportunity and I was not surprised to learn that there is competition in Europe.”