By Paul Jones
Gareth Bale will spend three months living the American dream – before proving a World Cup nightmare for England.
That’s the bold prediction of Bale’s long-term Wales teammate Joe Allen, who believes his national captain’s move to the MLS is already re-energising Bale’s career.
Allen – who has also switched clubs this summer from Stoke City back to Swansea – reckons jettisoned Real Madrid star Bale’s move to Los Angeles FC has given the Wales skipper a new lease of life.
“With my Wales hat on, I think the timing of the MLS season, will be perfect in terms of him peaking and getting in great shape for Wales,” said Allen.
“I think he’s really hungry to do well out there and hit the ground running. Like he always does, I’m sure he’ll be ready to deliver when it comes to the World Cup.”
Bale could make his LA debut on Sunday night when they travel to Nashville, after rejecting offers from the Premier League as well as his home-town club Cardiff City to move to the US.
Allen, 32, has spent 13 years in the same Wales team as Bale, who turned 33 on Saturday and insists suggestions Bale was considering retirement were always wide of the mark.
“I think everyone was looking forward to seeing what would happen after he left Real Madrid.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) July 16, 2022
“Having worked with him in terms of Wales, I think people assumed he was in position where he was winding down. But I haven’t seen that myself.
“If he’s able to keep playing until the 2026 World Cup then from a Wales point of view, that’d be great and I’m really hopeful he will.
“I know how hungry he will be for this World Cup in November. He has had a new club and a change of scenery and these are things that can give you a new lease of life.
“There was a big focus for me with Wales in the summer and I had a few issues. We had a huge game against Ukraine and I didn’t really think about my club future until after that. Thankfully, the interest was still there.
“There were still things to be worked out on the business side of things, but the thing that really accelerated the deal was the interest in Flynn Downes. When his deal was going ahead, it opened the door for me to make a return.
“It was a great feeling the moment I signed the contract and I just can’t wait to get going.
“Hopefully that will be sooner rather than later after the frustrations of getting injured at the back end of last season.”
Wales are in the same World Cup group as England, with the USA and Iran making up the numbers in Qatar.
‘Calling Out: Online Sexual Harassment’, features conversations between Cymru international footballers Joe Allen, Lily Woodham, Esther Morgan and Joe Morrellhttps://t.co/CzIYfjCAJs
— Nation.Cymru (@NationCymru) July 16, 2022
Bale – who scored the goal against Ukraine that took Wales through to their first finals since 1958 – will have the final three months of the MLS season to reach peak fitness.
Allen joked: “Gareth is in the US, we obviously know the England players really well, we just need someone to go and play for a while in Iran!”
Former Liverpool midfielder Allen will prepare for the World Cup with the Swans, who he left 10 years ago in a £15m move to Anfield.
“I think I’ve still got a lot of offer and I’m also stuck on 199 Premier League games, so the pressure is on this club to help me get back there to 200!”
LAFC fans are still awaiting their first glimpse of Bale and Giorgio Chiellini in an MLS game, though the star duo’s respective debuts could be on the horizon.
Head coach Steve Cherundolo, speaking to reporters at his Friday press conference, didn’t commit to giving Bale and Chiellini their first Black and Gold minutes when meeting Nashville SC.
But the coach did say it’s possible both could feature and that he’s pleased with how they’re integrating since joining the club.
“Anybody who travels is ready to get minutes,” Cherundolo said.
— Wales Watch 🏴⚽️ WC (Q) (@wales_watch) July 16, 2022
“So, how probable it is? We’ll have to see. The game will dictate that, as well as the coaches. But both are in a good spot to contribute to the group.”
“Adding new players, especially in the summer transfer window, is tricky, because these players are coming off of an offseason, so they’re doing their preseason during our season,” the first-year coach said.
“I think it’s important to understand that when integrating new players in this phase of the season. So, they are being integrated as fast as possible, but I think it’s also smart to give them time.”
Whether it happens on Sunday, it won’t be long before Bale and Chiellini earn minutes as LAFC challenge for the Supporters’ Shield, where they’ve been jostling with current leaders Austin FC and Eastern Conference frontrunners Philadelphia Union.