Good morning Gooners.
Today we continue our examination of yet another Arsenal loanee and what the future may hold for him. Last week it was Ryo Miyaichi and Nicklas Bendtner. Today its Mexican striker Carlos Vela, currently on loan at Real Sociedad.
Last season, Vela continued to be on the outer fringes of the Arsenal first team. He did get a few opportunities in cup games but even these were limited to appearances from the bench and his performances were mediocre. A loan spell with West Brom followed in January and enabled Vela to get more playing time. He did contribute to WBA finishing mid-table after looking in danger of slipping into relegation territory at one point.
In August, Arsenal announced he was being loaned out to La Liga club Real Sociedad for the season. It’s fair to say that the 23-year old is currently enjoying the best spell of his young career. He’s been especially lethal in the last three months, scoring 9 times and assisting twice in 15 games since the start of February when he scored against Barcelona. His last goal is this superb left foot volley with back to goal against Villareal.
The Mexican has stated that he prefers to remain in Spain at the end of his loan spell. It’s understandable because he’s played regularly and that’s allowed him to strike form and become an integral part of this Sociedad team. Besides, Vela also holds a Spanish passport and is culturally more at home there than in England. We’ve seen this before with Jose Antonio Reyes; keeping a player who is not happy with life off the pitch does not bode well for performances on it. Although Vela’s case is markedly different from the Spaniard’s, as the Mexican youngster already spent three full seasons in England before the loan move last year.
Personally, I would like to see Carlos Vela return to Arsenal. Of all the loaned out players this season, his performances have caught the eye more than any other. His confidence is high and the youngster seems to have filled out physically as well, an added advantage in the English game.
If Arsenal’s intention behind sending youngsters out on loan is to help them develop their game so that they may return and stake a claim at their parent club, then Vela has done exactly that and the Gunners should look to benefit from this improvement next season. His pace, directness, dribbling skills and ability to get between defenders in the box makes him a dangerous player when on form.
But if Robin van Persie stays and Podolski arrives, where will Vela figure if he does return?
If we continue to employ a one-man attack up front, it’s safe to assume Podolski and Walcott would be regular starters on the wings with Van Persie ahead of them. And with Gervinho and Alex Oxlade literally waiting in the wings, we have enough strikers to play in that position already.
If both Chamakh and Park depart in the summer and Podolski arrives, it would leave one striker spot to be filled. Could this gap be filled by Vela, who is equally as left-footed as the German? Or should Arsenal look for someone who offers a completely different form of attack, a target man to pose slightly different questions to staunch defenses? I am in favour of the latter. We are very one-dimensional at times and could do with ‘mixing it up’ a bit.
So unfortunately, the only way I can see him return is if Robin van Persie departs in the summer. In that event, Podolski would likely take RvP’s place in a 4-3-3, while Vela could start left and Walcott right. Of course, Gervinho and the Ox would still provide stiff competition, but if La Liga form can be replicated in the Premier League, Arsene Wenger would have no qualms starting the Mexican ahead of the others. This would still allow for a target man to be drafted in as well, again assuming both Chamakh and Park are sold.
Therefore in my opinion, if Robin van Persie signs a new contract and Podolski arrives too, then Vela will be regarded as one left-foot-striker too many. In which case, Arsenal will hope to benefit from his recent good form in extracting a healthier price from prospective buyers for the 23-year old Mexican.
Do write in and share your views. Another loanee to be examined tomorrow so do return. Until then.