Gareth Bale has praised Los Angeles supporters for making him feel welcome – in a sly dig at former club Real Madrid.
The Welsh winger joined the MLS side in June on a free transfer after his contract with the Spanish giants expired, with a view to staying match fit with regular game time ahead of the winter World Cup in Qatar.
And Bale thanked the ‘incredible’ fans of his new side for making him feel at home – in stark contrast to Real aficionados, who marred the later part of his career at the Bernabeu with negative chants.
When asked if he now feels wanted, he said: ‘Definitely. It feels nice, the fans have been really supportive over there, they’ve been really patient as well which is good. I’m enjoying playing, the atmosphere is incredible, they’re all supporting the team.
‘I can’t ask for any more than that. They’ve made me feel at home straight away. So it’s good vibes from the MLS and hopefully that gives me more confidence going into Wales as well.
‘The family are now settled in which is a big part. I’m getting stronger and fitter. Now we have an important stretch of games in the MLS, but after that I can turn my attention to the World Cup and hopefully be in the best shape I possibly can.
‘It’s up to the manager, but I’m fit and available. I feel like I’ve planned my journey to get used to the time changes well. I’ll train today and we’ll go from there.’
Despite winning 16 trophies and scoring 106 goals in 258 games with Los Blancos in a stellar nine-year spell, including five Champions League titles, Bale endured a rocky relationship with Real fans, especially towards the later part of his career.
With the wideman on huge wages and often injured, he would often play golf recreationally, leading supporters to question his priorities.
The situation was inflamed by Bale jokingly holding up a banner saying ‘Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order’ while on international duty with his country.
A Madrid columnist labelled him a ‘parasite’, with fans responding by shouting at him to ‘go play golf’ as he drove into training in May.
Rob Page’s side face Belgium on Thursday and host Poland on Sunday in the Nations League, with Bale hoping to be fit despite a slow process getting up to full match fitness with LAFC, where he has two goals in his first 11 games.
Those will be the last competitive matches before the World Cup, where Wales face USA, Iran and then rivals England in the group stage.