Before I dive straight into my first piece for WTTGT, I’d like to thank Dave Seager for giving me the opportunity to write for this up-and-coming Arsenal website.
My column is devoted to news regarding Arsenal from Spain. So you can expect some updates on ex-Gunners plying their trade in Spain, loanees and reports from players we’ve been linked with.
My love for Spanish football kick-started quite a few years ago. I’m a born and bred North Londoner, but am half Spanish (father’s side) and half English (mother’s side). My dad and my uncle used to follow their two clubs Valencia & Deportivo La Coruña, respectively, when I was very young. We’d often go to this place in South London where they’d air Spanish football frequently, and that’s when my passion for everything Spanish football started.
As I grew older, I continued to watch Spanish football as well as learn to read, write and speak the language. The thing I love most about the league is that, even with clubs in immense amounts of debt and in administration, they’ll still battle for a European place. The battle at the bottom is always entertaining and extremely unpredictable, whilst the fight for Champions league and Europa League football has become, in recent years, another unpredictable battle. The football that most teams play always entices me as I’m a massive fan, having been brought up with the ‘Wenger ball’ style of play at Arsenal, of the newly titled tiki-taka football. There are massive problems within Spanish football – clubs are run very poorly by the men up top, whilst the LFP (Spanish FA) find some sort of joy out of weakening every club barring the ‘top-two’. Clubs struggle to make any form of money from television deals; last season, Wolves made twice as much money as Valencia, the team who finished third in the league, through TV money.
Moving on from all of that, I’m here to speak about the Arsenal with a hint of Spanish vibes, which you can expect from me every week. Today, I’m going to look at Carlos Vela’s fantastic season at Real Sociedad, a club who have reached dizzy heights this season.
Real Sociedad have been impeccable this season, and have been rated by most as the best team, in terms of entertaining style of play, in Spain. La Real find themselves sitting firmly in fourth place, as of writing this, and some of that can go down to Carlos Vela’s fantastic contributions. Phillipe Montanier, La Real’s manager, has found the perfect mixture of promising youth and journeymen which have all shone this season. La Real look towards their cantera (academy) for future stars, and aren’t ones who splash out for various different leagued players.
Carlos Vela is La Real’s top scorer and assist maker with 14 goals and eight assists this season. He’s been deployed in various positions across the front-three, but has shone most notably on the right-hand side. He’s found an air of maturity about his game now, and rarely ever attempts the spectacular; he always works his socks off and is a vital component to La Real’s attacking threat. Vela has found composure in front of goal and has been a fairly clinical figure from inside the box. In fact, all 13 of Vela’s goals this season have come from inside the box – he usually goes down his flank, cuts in and lashes a shot at goal or lays the ball off for a team-mate.
The fans have warmed to Carlos Vela and were significantly happy when he got his permanent move to La Real, following his fairly good loan spell the season before, in the summer. Vela’s come on leaps and bounds in Spain and is thriving off constant first-team football. Something he wasn’t getting at Arsenal.
At Arsenal, Vela struggled to make waves when given the chance. He was brilliant in cup games, but never really grasped his opportunities on the bigger stage. He always looked distinctly disinterested and looked like he never wanted to make an appearance off the bench; his warm-ups were half-hearted. But Wenger continued to see potential in him, whilst us Arsenal fans struggled to see any form of improvement in his game, and decided to put a £4M buy-back clause in his contract.
Personally, I’d take Carlos Vela back. I think he’s, as I discussed previously, matured and learned a lot from being a figure of consistency in the overachieving La Real side. On the contrary, I don’t think Vela would come back. Why would he? He’s playing regular football, almost guaranteed regular Champions League minutes next season, and the fans have grown on him and vice-versa. Vela would be a squad player here, or a utility man; we need to aim higher than that. He’d develop into a fine player, but I think stagnation of his development is something that could occur, should he return.
Wenger clearly still rates Carlos Vela, and the former Arsenal forward has spoken of Arsenal scouts watching his every game. For £4M, he’d be worth giving a go. If we were to offload Chu-Young Park, Marouane Chamakh and Nicklas Bendtner, the wage bill would free up and we’d at least have a talented forward who, hopefully, would continue to showcase some maturity.