Monday, May 27, 2024

Cifuentes happy to hand LAFC shirt number to new star team-mate Bale

SoccerNews in MLS 12 Jul 2022

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Gareth Bale’s new Los Angeles FC team-mate Jose Cifuentes has explained why he decided to hand over his squad number to Major League Soccer’s latest star import.

Bale signed for LAFC in June after leaving Real Madrid on the expiration of his contract.

The Welsh winger, who turns 33 this week, has signed a one-year deal with the MLS team, though that deal can be extended through to 2024.

With a World Cup campaign with Wales on the horizon in Qatar, Bale has the chance to stay at the top of his game in California, and he will be able to do so while wearing his preferred shirt number – 11.

Bale has worn the number 11 for his country for over a decade, while he also wore it in his last season at Tottenham in 2013-14, and his first seven campaigns with Madrid.

With the number occupied by Erik Lamela when Bale returned to Spurs on loan in 2020, the forward took number nine, while he was given the number 18 last season for Los Blancos.

However, even though Cifuentes was already wearing 11 for LAFC, he was happy to hand it over to Bale.

Writing on his official Instagram account, Cifuentes said: “[Number] 11 has accompanied my career at LAFC from the beginning and although it is special and has an important meaning, I have decided to give it to Gareth, who has used that number much longer than me.

“My interest is to contribute so that my team-mates, the club and the fans feel supported by me and with this gesture I want to demonstrate that.

“Let’s stay together because we need each other to achieve the goals.”

Cifuentes scored twice in LAFC’s last game, a 3-2 derby win over LA Galaxy, with only Carlos Vela and Cristian Arango having managed more MLS goals than the midfielder among his team-mates so far in 2022.

Bale’s MLS debut is likely to come against Nashville later this week.

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