Carlos Vela's skill and versatile game are allowing the on-loan Arsenal man to make a name for himself in Spain, and that's where he should stay, writes Nick Rosano.
Seven goals in a season is not exactly something to jump out of your seat about. Sure, it takes a great degree of skill to score goals in the world’s best leagues, but at the highest level, the stat doesn’t jump off the page.
For Carlos Vela, however, the seven goals he has scored this season is already his highest-ever total for a top flight team and have started to lift the question marks about how much potential the on-loan Arsenal man has.
It’s not just about the goals either. Vela’s goal total is matched by his assist total, good for a tie for ninth in La Liga. Only two non-Barcelona or Real Madrid players rank higher (Jesus Navas and Raul Garcia) and the two players he shares the tie for ninth with? Xabi Alonso and Kaka – that’s pretty esteemed company.
Vela joined Arsenal from the Chivas youth system after claiming the Golden Boot in Mexico’s triumphant 2005 U-17 World Cup campaign. He made the jump to Arsenal, but naturally needed time to establish himself at such a young age. He showed potential on loans at Salamanca, Osasuna and West Brom, but questions about whether he was suited for the very top of world soccer started to surface.
Now, though, Vela is constantly producing in one of the top leagues in the world, and rather than a return to the physical game and pressure cooker in England, a stay in Spain is exactly what Vela needs to progress as a player.
When talking of Mexican players with potential (or unfulfilled potential), Vela certainly factors into the discussion, but it is hard to avoid talk of the man 72 days his junior, Giovani dos Santos. Both have overcome difficulty in England to show promise in Spain, yet only Vela seems to have figured out that Spain is the best place for him.
Whereas Vela has accepted the move to a less glamorous setting and flourished because of it, dos Santos’ development has continued to stagnate following his refusal to move to a league and team of smaller stature than the Premier League and Tottenham.
Right now, it would seem that both Vela and Real Sociedad would like to make the U-17 World Cup winner’s move to Spain permanent. Sociedad president Jokin Aperribay expressed interest in Vela, and the player himself is also open to a permanent move.
Though Arsenal may be more conducive to Vela’s style of play than most Premier League teams, it is difficult to picture him cracking the squad of a top English team. More likely, he would suffer the fate of dos Santos, relegated to the fringes of the team, with a handful of minutes to his name.
A return to the Gunners is certainly not off the table, but Vela would be well-served to stay in Spain. Sociedad looks set to avoid relegation this year, and another solid season with that club would serve notice of his consistency and open up a move to a bigger stage in the future.
In the meantime though, Vela will have plenty of opportunities to make his name. His blinder of a goal this past weekend was a testament to both his pace and athleticism, and his ability to both score and create at a consistent level, as well as play anywhere across the attacking line are evidence ever-growing pedigree and dynamic game.
Carlos Vela has found a team that not only appreciates his talents, but can nurture them, which is a lot more than can be said for many of the young Mexicans who have tested the waters overseas. He would be well-served to keep that relationship up.