Gareth Bale has increased the likelihood of a further season in MLS with LAFC by rejecting speculation he will retire from football after Wales‘ World Cup elimination from the World Cup in a 3-0 defeat to England on Tuesday.
Bale, 33, was substituted at half-time in the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium after suffering a hamstring injury during a first-half in which he touched the ball just seven times.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)
The former Real Madrid and Tottenham forward said ahead of the England game it would not be his last for Wales, but there was confusion over whether he intended to continue his career or if he was suggesting that Wales could claim the 4-0 victory that would have secured a place in the round of 16.
But with their exit from the competition confirmed on Tuesday by defeat against Gareth Southgate’s side, Bale said he wanted to continue his playing career.
“I will keep going as long as I can and as long as I am wanted,” Bale said. “We [Wales] go again in March.”
When asked whether he would be involved at the start of his country’s Euro 2024 qualifying campaign next spring, he said, “I hope so, yes.”
Bale failed to complete a full 90 minutes for LAFC following his arrival from Madrid at the end of the European season last summer, but he did score a late extra-time goal to help the club win its first MLS Cup on penalties against Philadelphia Union earlier this month.
Bale is under contract at LAFC until June 2023, with options for a further 18 months, and his commitment to playing on for Wales suggests he will return to Los Angeles for the start of the 2023 MLS season.
Wales manager Rob Page said that he is keen to have Bale back in the squad when the side plays their next match — a Euro 2024 qualifier against Croatia on March 25.
“I don’t think it will be the last time you see Gareth in a Wales jersey,” Page said. “We have games in March for the start of our Euro 2024 campaign and we want to make a flying start, so I’m sure you will see him a Wales shirt again.
“He was struggling during the first-half with his hamstring and would only have been 70% fit for the second-half and we needed everybody at full strength, so it was the right decision for the team to take him off and he accepted that.”
Gareth Bale dismisses retirement talk after World Cup exit