Carlos Vela burst onto the stage at the Emirates Stadium in a 6-0 victory over Sheffield United in the League Cup back in September 2008.
The 19 year old Mexican striker was making his full debut that night and only the Arsenal fans who knew about the reserve and youth teams would have heard of him. Although he had been at the club since 2005, he had been out on loan in Spain to earn a work-permit.
Vela had come on as a substitute three weeks prior to the League Cup tie, replacing Robin van Persie in a 3-0 win over Newcastle United.
Vela lit up the League Cup tie against Sheffield United and bagged himself a fine hat-trick. The second goal was a beautiful finish as he scooped the ball over Paddy Kenny in the United goal. This was sandwiched between two well-placed goals by Vela who looked very much the real deal.
Vela had finished the top goalscorer in the Under 17 World Cup in Peru back in 2005, attracting interest from big clubs across Europe. Arsenal won the race to sign him a few weeks after the tournament and signed him from Mexican side Chivas.
Vela needed a work-permit so Arsene Wenger sent him on loan to Spanish clubs Salamanca and Osasuna. Vela finally got his work-permit in 2008 and his first team debut and the above hat-trick soon followed.
Expectations soared after the hat-trick and suddenly Arsenal fans thought that Vela would be able to step up and become a regular in the first-team.
It didn’t quite click for Vela and over the next two and a half years, he appeared 62 times and score 11 goals.
Wenger sent Carlos Vela over to West Brom in the 2010/11 season and he only played in eight games, finding the back of the net twice.
Another loan deal was to follow as he joined Real Sociedad of Spain in the summer of 2011. He took a liking to life at Sociedad and told the Spanish press that he didn’t want to return to Arsenal.
Vela got his wish and joined Sociedad on a permanent basis in the summer of 2012, in a deal that was worth around £2.5 million.
His first two season at Sociedad went well, averaging just over a goal every two and a half games. The 2015/16 was less good as he only scored 5 in 36 games.
In the 2016/17 season, Vela only managed to scored 10 in 39 games an it was announced in the summer of 2017 that he would be joining Los Angeles FC in the MLS.
Vela only managed one goal in his last 17 matches for Sociedad after the announcement that he was moving across the Atlantic and he joined Los Angeles on 1st January 2018.
Questions over whether Vela had the desire to go with his outstanding ability had been asked by many managers and journalists over the course of his career. Arsene Wenger, who of course gave him the chance to prove himself at Arsenal, didn’t think that Vela became fully committed. This is the reason that Wenger believes stopped Vela from pushing on and becoming world-class.
Things weren’t working out at Arsenal as he became lonely and didn’t have a love for football. He also got served a six-month suspension from the Mexican national team in 2010.
Vela refused to return to the Mexico team for the 2014 World Cup because of the incident that caused his suspension four years previously. He did feature in the 2018 World Cup in Russia though.
Vela’s first season at Los Angeles went well, finishing the 2018 season with 15 goals in 32 games. He then became part of the 23 man Mexico squad to travel to Russia to take part in his first World Cup.
Germany were Mexico’s opponents for the first game in the group and Vela was part of the South American’s team who beat the World Champions 1-0.
In the second group match, Vela scored a penalty in a 2-1 win over South Korea. Despite losing 3-0 to Sweden in the final group game, Mexico qualified for the knockout stages but were beaten 2-0 by Brazil.
Last season’s 2019 campaign was a hugely successful one for the former Arsenal man as he scored an amazing 38 goals in 36 games!
It certainly looks as if the Mexican has finally found his level and is scoring goals for fun. Let’s hope that his love for football has returned and that he can enjoy the last few years of his career.