Robert Page says World Cup-bound Wales are already feeling the benefits of Gareth Bale’s move to the United States.
Bale joined MLS side Los Angeles FC this summer after his trophy-laden nine-year spell at Real Madrid came to an end.
The 33-year Wales captain had previously been linked with a shock move to Sky Bet Championship club Cardiff, with national-team boss Page having said that Bale joining his hometown team “ticks all the boxes”.
Cardiff and the Football Association of Wales share the same training and medical facilities, with the Vale of Glamorgan base being just a few miles from Bale’s home, but he eventually chose to sign a 12-month LAFC contract, with options through to 2024.
Bale appears to be embracing the Los Angeles lifestyle, and earlier this month threw the first pitch before the Dodgers’ baseball win over the Minnesota Twins at Dodger Stadium.
“He’s gone to a good team with a great set up,” Page told the PA news agency while speaking on behalf of M&S Food’s Eat Well, Play Well campaign at a grassroots session in Barry.
“Our head of medical has already been over, so the dialogue between us and the club is great.
“That is brilliant. They get a fantastic Gareth Bale every week and we get him full of confidence coming into camp.
“It’s a win-win for everybody when you’ve got that relationship between the national team and the club.
“It’s a great move for him. The season finishes in November with the play-offs potentially, which I think they will do because they are doing really well.”
With Wales starting their World Cup campaign against the United States in Qatar on November 21, Bale has yet to start for LAFC.
The Californian club have carefully managed his game-time but Bale has scored twice in five substitute appearances, and LAFC are nine points clear at the top of the Western Conference standings.
“The defender thinks he’s got him and then Gareth goes into another gear and gets past him,” Page said of Bale’s goals.
“It’s great for Welsh supporters to see because, barring any injuries now until November, he’ll hit the ground running and be ft for us at the World Cup.
“He’s had a frustrating couple of years, because there have been spells where he’s trained every day but not been in the team.
“He’s now at a club that are managing him sensibly through the week and getting him in top condition for the game time on a Saturday.
“If you start him too soon then I think you are asking for trouble, so they’ve been really sympathetic how they get him up to fitness.”
Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey also made a high-profile move this summer by swapping Italy for France.
Ramsey’s contract at Juventus, which had 12 months left to run, was terminated by mutual agreement and the 31-year-old has joined Ligue 1 outfit Nice.
Page said: “It’s a similar style of football (to Italy) and it suits Aaron. He’s already showed his quality there and it’s a great move for him.
“I’ve spoken to Gareth and Aaron, they’ve both settled in and are enjoying their football.
“They’re really enjoying where they’ve gone and are playing with smiles on their faces.”
:: Robert Page is working with M&S Food’s Eat Well, Play Well campaign, offering kids the chance to win a training masterclass with the Wales teams. Go to marksandspencer.com/football to find out more.
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