Carlos Vela: Why His Goals, Assists & Maturity Prove He's Ready For An Arsenal Return...
Carlos Vela made no mistake, and just like that, his side were back in it after trailing by two goals. It is becoming a regular occurrence now, not the smile nor the goal scoring; there is something else about the Mexican these days. It’s not the fact that his twelve goals have Real Sociedad just a few points off the Champions League spots or the fact that he feels loved. It seems that for the first time in a long time that the clouds that hung over him are gone, as he has become the master of his own destiny, a destiny which looks increasingly likely to feature a return to Arsenal.
The mixed zone was empty as Carlos passed by on a May night in 2012. There were two reasons for that and one of them was his fault. Atlético de Madrid were fighting for a Champions League spot but, he did not care about that when he came on with just 10 minutes to go. La Real weren’t out of the grasp of the relegation zone and he was sent on with one objective: nick a goal! He did just that and if there is any doubt of how important that goal was, a few weeks later Atleti would finish 5th, just two points off Málaga and miss out on the Champions League. That night everyone stayed in the Atlético de Madrid press room waiting to see Diego Simeone’s reaction to the late goal. There was also the business of El Clasico and so Carlos could have been forgiven if he thought he could walk straight past the few journalists waiting, but he would be wrong.
With only two games left of his loan spell, speculation was rife about his future and his return to Arsenal. The first question he was asked that night in Madrid was exactly about that. Arsene Wenger had signed the Mexican at a young age and many believed he would be worth the wait. Having been sent to Celta Vigo and Osasuna whilst he waited his work permit, he impressed and Arsenal fans looked forward to a potential star. The forward danced and dazzled his way through La Liga defences and so the future looked bright; only things did not go to plan when he arrived in England.
When it comes to foreign players, there is a list of clichés trotted out for their failure to adapt. The most common one is the weather, and whilst it is true that Carlitos may come from sunnier climates, the Basque country weather is very similar to that in England and he is doing well there. Another reason often given is food, but when asked that wasn’t an issue for the player. So what could have been the reason, and what are Arsenal missing?
Vela has always said that he prefers the Spanish style of football. The pace and the passing style suits him. It is no secret that the Premier League is more physical but over the years with Coaches like Diego Simeone implementing their style, La Liga is beefing up. This season he has been playing mainly on the right wing and drifts in. His crossing and movement is something that Arsenal fans would kill to see this season. His timing is impeccable and that although at times he gives the appearance that he is being lazy, it a rouse to dupe defenders into relaxing and when the right ball comes, he goes at it like a bolt of lightening.
While he has never spoken badly about Arsenal, his body language suggests that he feels two things. One that Arsenal could have done more and another is that he has unfinished business. Arsenal scouts have been spotted in San Sebastian and there is a clause that The Gunners can sign him back for just €3.5m. Ten months ago the player suggested that the door was closed on a possible return toEngland. A player who once lost his passport and missed out on a Champions League tie at the Camp Nou has matured a lot and knows that he too has some responsibility for his time in England. Now he says that he would be interested in returning, but that he would need to sit down and have a serious think about it.
‘I don’t rule it out. They have a clause to buy me back and you put that in the contract for a reason. I don’t know if anything will happen but I know Arsenal have come to see my games,’ he said a few weeks ago. So far, he has been fundamental for La Real but this season it is not a relegation battle that he is involved in but a fight for Europe. The side from the North of Spain are in the European spots and are showing no signs of leaving them. Vela has not just scored vital goals but provided assists and started movements that have seen the team that was once managed by Chris Coleman in the second tier sit happily in 6th and have a real chance of reaching the Champions League.
As mention he has matured a lot over the past year. When informed that one of his former bosses had taken over the England job, he only had kind words for Roy Hodgson. It is that maturity that may have been the key that persuaded Arsene Wenger to consider him again because his talent has never been in doubt.
The possibility of Vela returning to the Emirates is an interesting one. Arsenal also have Joel Campbell to return, should he get a work permit, and so he would face competition. He is liked in Spain and he is enjoying himself. Barca and Atlético de Madrid have also run their eye over him but with the clause in place, Arsenal will have first refusal. Can he return and be the player that Wenger once dreamed he would be? On this season’s evidence it appears he could.