Gareth Bale has revealed he is aiming to continue to represent Wales beyond this winter’s World Cup, with Euro 2024 a goal and even the 2026 World Cup a possibility.

There had been suggestions Bale could retire after Qatar 2022 and that his 12-month contract at Los Angeles FC could be his last after a difficult final few seasons at Real Madrid.

However, speaking at his first press conference as a player for the MLS side, Bale made it clear he intends to play on beyond this season, with the European Championships in Germany and World Cup four years away in North America both targets.

“I’m still 32 – 33 at the end of the week – and I still have many years to come,” the five-time Champions League winner said.

“I haven’t come here to be here for six months, 12 months, I’ve come here to try to be here as long as possible. I want to do as well as I can, make my mark on this league, this team. I’m looking forward to the future, it’s not a short thing.

Gareth Bale with the LAFC shirt at his first press conference

Image: Bale with the LAFC shirt at his first press conference

“It also gives me the best opportunity to keep going to the next Euros, maybe further, so my plan is to really work hard.

“There’s a great physical team [at the club], medical staff, performance staff at the training ground and we’ve got a great plan going forward to get me up to speed and hopefully last as long as possible.

“By being here gives me the best possible chance to make it to the Euros and you never know, maybe one more, that’s my goal. I feel I’m here to play a big part.”

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Bale says he has had a great welcome from the fans since his arrival in Los Angeles, and cannot wait to get going on the pitch

Bale joins a LAFC team who are only in their fifth full season but who are top of the Western Conference. The Californian side have also recruited Italy and Juventus legend Giorgio Chiellini this summer and the Welshman is targeting silverware with his new club.

Bale says he is also hoping to play his part in growing the game in the USA and helping young players at the club step up.

“Speaking to Larry [Berg, lead managing owner] and John [Thorrington, co-president and general manager] on Zoom, straight away it felt like the right destination to be at,” said Bale.

Gareth Bale key dates

Image: Key dates in the build up to the World Cup for Bale

“The exciting project, the club that’s growing, they’re doing well at the moment and the city’s not bad as well!

“I want to try to help grow football in the US as well. I want to try to help the youngsters grow. I was speaking to a couple of them this morning and if I can help them in any way possible I will.

“For players who have experienced a lot in their careers I think we have a responsibility to grow the game all around the world as well.

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What will Bale’s new life in California look like following his move to Los Angeles FC? Sky Sports News’ Ben Ransom finds out…

“This is a league that’s really growing. It’s come a long way in the last 10 years and everyone is striving to improve this league. The players that come over see that as well.

“I don’t think anyone now sees it as a retirement league. It’s physical, it’s demanding, the weather changes are difficult, the travel is difficult but it’s exciting to play in front of fans like the ‘3252’. It’s what you play football for. The atmosphere is incredible in these stadiums and it will be great to witness it.”

Why Bale move to MLS is good for all involved…

Gareth Bale

Image: Bale has signed a 12-month deal with LAFC

While Bale’s transfer to the US may come as a surprise to some. To those in the Wales set-up, this will not be a shock.

During the last international camp, Bale, Rob Page and anyone else within the set-up were quizzed about a potential transfer to Cardiff City. They did not play down the chance, but they were also just being polite and respectful.

It would have been a huge risk for Bale to take even a short contract to play in the Championship, the risk of being injured either through a mistimed tackle or just the attritional wear and tear of one of the toughest leagues in the world was, in my opinion, never on the cards.