The Mexican arrived in North London as a 16-year-old and was tipped to become a star for the Gunners. However, after a series of loan spells at Salamanca, Osasuna, West Brom, and Real Sociedad Vela was sold to the latter for £4 million.
There was exciting surrounding the youngster in his early career with Arsenal – Arsene Wenger clearly had faith in him but, as the years wore on, that faith diminished as it became increasing apparent he was unable to fulfill those expectations to earn his place in Wenger’s first team.
Vela made just 62 senior appearances over three seasons at Arsenal and, over that period scored 11 goals and made 7 assists. At the time his path to the starting 11 was blocked by the likes of Robin van Persie, an in-form Andrey Arshavin, Samir Nasri, Marouane Chamakh and Nicklas Bendtner.
Those players have either departed from the Emirates now or are languishing in the reserves and Arsenal are left with just one recognized striker in Olivier Giroud.
Meanwhile, in Spain, Vela, now 24 years old, has been in impeccable form – he’s made 29 appearances so far this term, scored 12 goals and made 10 assists and is one of Real Sociedad’s best players. His value has subsequently risen to around £10.5 million.
However, today’s back pages are linking the Mexican with a potential move back to Arsenal – reportedly Arsenal included a buy back clause in the deal when they sold him meaning they could have him returned for the fee they sold him for, £4 million.
For that price I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if Arsene Wenger snapped him up – he was, after all, the one who discovered him and kept faith in his potential all those years. They would have to pay a lot more for any other La Liga forward that brings that number of goals and assists to the table.
The only cause for concern would be the question mark that still remains about his attitude and discipline – there was an incident shortly before he was sold in which he reportedly was left out of the squad for a Champions League game after forgetting his passport.
His desire and commitment to perform consistently at the highest level was in doubt and it seemed he suffered from a degree of the ‘can’t be bothered’ syndrome that Andrey Arshavin does.
Should Arsenal bring Vela back? I think for that price they’d it’d be rude not to. However, you get what you pay for and there are good reasons why they sold him in the first place. They would need to be sure he is willing to work hard as they already have an abundance of players who just aren’t that fussed about winning.