Carlos Vela has shown some salivating glimpses of his talent since joining Arsenal in 2006. Take a seat in the Emirates and you’ll hear the surroundings echo eulogies of his quick pace, his deft first touch and his accomplished finishing. Despite his embryonic career, it’s becoming clear why Arsene Wenger was so keen to land and keep the player in the face of work permit problems.
The Mexican’s move from Arsenal was preempted by his incandescent performance at the U-17 World Cup in 2005, alongside another promising Mexican in Giovanni Dos Santos. His performances obviously caught Wenger’s eye and after several months of negotiations, the forward looked set to join up with the Gunners in 2006. Unable to acquire a work permit, however, the 21-year-old was loaned to Spain for two years, first to Salamanca and secondly to Osasuna.
In spite of these problems, Vela’s good form at U-20 level for his country continued and he was justifiably promoted to the senior squad in 2007. The forward now has over twenty caps for his country along with an impressive eight goals.
Unfortunately for the youngster, a series of injuries has stunted his progression in recent years. His participation in Mexico’s Gold Cup campaign of 2009 – which El Tricolor won by beating USA 5-0 in the final – was cut short and his return to Arsenal saw him fall out of favour as his injury problems persisted.
It wasn’t until Arsene Wenger’s options became limited by further injuries that Vela began to make a promising return.
Vela has been used both upfront and on the left by Arsene Wenger and he is expected to be used in a similar manner by Mexico manager Javier Aguirre, though he will primarily feature cutting inside from the left. The Mexican team’s flexibility, however, may give the youngster the license to roam into different areas of the field, so don’t be too surprised to find him on the right or acting as a forward man.
Flexibility and youth will be key to Mexico’s progress in the competition. Resultantly, the North American’s may come unstuck by inexperience, ill-discipline, and most probably fitness. But, admirably, Aguirre’s set up emphasizes improvisation and quick passing moves which could provide the neutral with a fantastic display of football which should feature the Arsenal youngster right at the heart.
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