Hollywood funnyman Will Ferrell wooed Gareth Bale with a personal message as Los Angeles FC used the star treatment to take him to MLS.
Bale signed a one-year deal with LAFC leading up to the World Cup – but the Welsh superstar has an option to remain in the City of Angels through 2024.
Ferrell, star of comedy hits such as Anchorman, Bewitched and Curious George, is a co-owner of LAFC, who currently sit atop of the Western Conference.
After initial contact was made during the Wales v Ukraine World Cup playoff, Ferrell got in touch with the 33-year-old Bale about a move to the West Coast.
Will Ferrell sent Gareth Bale a personal message to encourage him to join LAFC
Bale headed to Major League Soccer after a high profile departure from Real Madrid
‘I can’t remember exactly what stage in the conversation it was but he did receive a personal message from Will Ferrell,’ LAFC co-president and general manager John Thorrington said.
‘We have an amazing group of owners, who are very committed to delivering on these lofty ambitions.’
After nine star-studded years with Real Madrid, Bale was linked with a move back to hometown club Cardiff City. But LAFC’s pitch proved too good to refuse.
‘I will tell you the absolute, honest truth, until I saw a signature I never believed it would happen,’ Thorrington added.
‘But everything trended positively throughout and it was a fairly linear process. It was sort of step by step.
‘He had some questions and we would bring in that expert to talk about it – whether that would be our strength and conditioning staff, whether it was bringing an owner into the conversation.
‘We just had probably five, six conversations, and I think each got us a step closer to the deal. We were a totally different opportunity and I was not surprised to hear there was competition in Europe.
‘But I think what helped is Gareth’s knowledge of LA, getting to know what the club offered, which was unique relative to the other options, and we were grateful that the stars aligned, and we’re able to do.’
With two goals in his first four appearances for LAFC, Bale has hit the ground running in MLS. And with Wayne Rooney’s DC United visiting the Banc of California Stadium on Tuesday, LAFC can wrap up a club record eighth-straight win.
Thorrington, who played in Manchester United’s academy and fondly recalls Sir Alex Ferguson, says the club’s ambitions match those of five-time Champions League winner Bale.
‘We were very clear from the outset as to what we could put together as a package for Gareth – and I think the key to the deal was never finances,’ Thorrington said.
‘I mean, we can’t compete with Real Madrid and these, so I think the conversation was less about economics and more about everything else. I think that just showed where Gareth’s priorities are.
‘It was to be in an environment where he felt he could thrive and be comfortable, where his family could be comfortable and put himself in a position where he can succeed in preparation for the World Cup and for the next few years of his career.’
Bale signed a one-year deal with LAFC leading up to the World Cup with Wales
But the 33-year-old attacker has an option to stay with the MLS club up to 2024
With the countdown to Qatar reaching fever pitch, Thorrington rebuffed suspicions that Bale was just playing for LAFC until the World Cup.
‘Yeah, so that, again, was part of the conversation, which was, “What are you seeing in this?” because that could have been true.
‘If he would have said to us, “Look, I just want to get to the World Cup and we’ll take it from there” we would have said, “OK, let’s talk about that”.
‘But it was very clear to us that this was not just a short-term decision for Gareth and his family. That he wanted to think longer term, which is why we structured the deal accordingly.
‘It was very clear to us that Gareth’s intent and desire was to find an agreement that extended beyond just the World Cup.’