Football

Carlos Vela: The one that got away

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With Arsenal still fans clamouring for new faces four days away from the transfer window slamming shut, their lack of strength in depth has been laid bare for all to see by an injury crisis that shows no sign of slowing down.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger lost Lukas Podolski for two months with a hamstring strain this week, leaving Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott desperately short of support in the final third.

Arsenal fans may be ruing failed attempts to land Luis Suarez and Gonzalo Huguain during the close season, but last summer they allowed a flashy forward entering his prime to leave the Emirates for a fraction of the fee he could now command.

Step forward Mexican striker Carlos Vela, the dynamic, pacy attacker now spearheading Real Sociedad's march to the Champions League.

Vela joined Arsenal in 2008 after successive loan spells in Spain and immediately made an impact, showing a clinical eye in the penalty area as he bagged a hat-trick against Sheffield United in the League Cup.

From there Vela's career at the Emirates stalled, with the Mexican largely restricted to fleeting cameos in the Premier League as the likes of Robin van Persie blocked his path into the first-team.

Frustration quickly followed and despite a brace against Braga in the Champions League Wenger eventually lost patience with a starlet lacking confidence, sending Vela to Sociedad on loan via a brief spell at West Bromwich Albion.

Since arriving in the Basque region in 2011 Vela has rarely looked back, flourishing with regular game time and the trust of his coach in advanced position on the left flank.

Vela now thrives in a side set up to play on the counter, using quick close control and acceleration to terrorize defenders in La Liga for more than two years.

The 24-year-old will probably be best remembered by Gunners fans for finishing one-on-one situations with a cheeky chip when given time and space, a trait which is the mark of a player with complete belief in his own ability.

That clinical streak has returned in the last 12 months since making the switch permanent, with Vela finishing last season as Sociedad's top scorer as they left critics stunned by finishing fourth in La Liga, earning a place in the Champions League qualifying round as a result

Vela's impact in the Basque region hasn't stopped there, with a brace against Lyon last night earning Sociedad a place in the Champions League group stages for the first time in 10 years.

Wenger is a manager with a proven track record of bringing the best out of young talent and giving them a platform to shine on the big stage, but the Frenchman failed to have his famed influence on Vela.

By the time Vela left the Emirates his confidence had hit rock bottom, but the slick operator now looks to be a player capable of gracing Europe's best sides if he can sustain a rich vein of recent form.

26 league goals in two seasons with four in as a many games already in the current campaign, that sounds like a strike rate worth shouting about right?

Vela will have to be filed under the 'what might have been' for Arsenal fans, who have grown accustomed to seeing stars spend their peak years away from the Emirates.

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Topics:
Arsenal
UEFA Champions League
Football

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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