The South Florida expansion team held first dibs for the Welsh star after including him on their Discover list, but when passing up on the chance, LAFC made their move. The Western Conference side nailed down the signing of the Summer, acquiring Bale on a 12-month contract with options through the 2024 Major League Soccer season.
LAFC paid Real Madrid an undisclosed amount for the player, and $75,000 in General Allocation Money to Inter Miami for his Discovery rights.
“At this moment in time, I feel as if we’re still in that foundation, building block phase. And there will be times when we add the cherries and the icings on the cake…As much as it's, yes, great on paper and all that business, we felt from a roster point of view, we felt from what we really wanted from this season, [Jean] and the other players hopefully we'll bring in what we want at this moment in time,” Neville explained to reporters.
"[Bale] would enhance any football team, but we have a cap at this football club, we have a certain level of player that we think will improve us in certain areas. Good luck to Gareth in LAFC. I'm glad we don't have to play them again. They are ahead of us in terms of what they're building, but we'll catch them."
But that’s not to say Inter Miami are done signing big names either. The head coach continued to tease incoming transfers, crediting chief soccer officer and sporting director Chris Henderson for scouting talent.
“We are developing a real, real top-level recruitment department,” Neville added. “You look at the players that we’ve brought in this year, players that probably not many people have heard of, but players that are on our radar, players that we feel fit the characteristics of what we want. Which is hungry. We really want hungry players.”
Neville also used the recent signing of French attacker Corentin Jean from Ligue 1 side RC Lens as an example, citing the team doesn’t want “someone that’s gone over the hill, we’re getting someone that’s still just halfway up the hill.
“When I first spoke to him, he desperately wanted to come to Inter Miami, and that for a player that’s playing in a real top league in Europe, at the age that he is, is a really good sign. We’re not getting someone that’s gone over the hill. We’re getting someone that’s still just halfway up the hill really wanting to improve,” Neville said of the 26-year-old.
“His versatility is really important…He can play left and right wing. He can play No. 10, center forward. And he’s played a lot of his football at wingback for his team, and you know I like going to wingbacks as well. So he fits into what we’re trying to do.”
Inter Miami currently sits in eight on the Eastern Conference table, with a record of 6W-7L-3D and just one point adrift from the playoff cutoff. The South Florida side has yet to feature in the playoffs since their Major League Soccer debut in 2020.
But Neville is hopeful 2022 is their year.