Carlos Vela Profile
|Born||Mar 01, 1989|
One of the most popular players in MLS and Mexico, Carlos Vela may have retired from international soccer but he remains one of the top players at Los Angeles FC, and he's not done yet.
Carlos Vela is a Mexican winger who captains Major League Soccer side Los Angeles FC and earned 72 caps for Mexico before retiring from international soccer in 2018.
He rose to prominence during his stint at Arsenal but struggled to nail down a regular starting place amid stiff competition in his position. Vela went out on loan to several clubs from the Gunners before a permanent move to Real Sociedad in 2012, after seven years on the books of the North London club.
Vela signed for LAFC ahead of the 2018 season and quickly became a big success in the MLS, scoring 34 goals in 2019 to claim the MVP award and the Golden Boot.
Apart from on the wing, Vela can also be utilised as a centre forward and a second striker.
Carlos Vela and Los Angeles FC
Vela signed for LAFC from Real Sociedad in a transfer which was announced on August 8, 2017 but only officially completed on January 1, 2018.
In his first season on the books of his new club, Vela scored 14 goals in 28 MLS appearances. He had only scored one in 13 La Liga appearances in 2017/18 prior to the transfer being completed from Real Sociedad, so his improved return was promising. It ultimately proved to be a sign of even greater things to come.
In 2019, Vela scored 34 goals in 31 MLS appearances to win the MVP award and the Golden Boot. LAFC won the Supporters' Shield, given to the team with the best regular season record. However, they lost 3-1 to Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference final, having finished 16 points above them in the regular standings. Seattle went on to beat Toronto FC 3-1 to claim the MLS title.
In 2020, Vela missed several games due to both injury and his wife's pregnancy, but his clinical goalscoring form for LAFC remained intact.
Having been handed the captain's armband, Vela says all that is left for him to do is win a title. He said: "I have never won a title with a club team before and I want to win it with LAFC, it's something I want to get out of my system and wish to accomplish before I retire."
Moving to Arsenal
Vela joined Arsenal from Chivas on a five-year deal in 2005. However, work permit restrictions meant the Mexican wasn't able to play in England and he spent time on loan at Celta Vigo, Salamanca and Osasuna.
In May 2008, Vela was granted a work permit that allowed him to play in the Premier League. Several months later, he made his Arsenal debut as a substitute against Newcastle. Late in the 2008/09 season, Vela became only the second Mexican to score in the Premier League after getting on the scoresheet against Portsmouth. The winger made 64 appearances for the Gunners in his time there, scoring 11 goals. He spent the second half of the 2010/11 season on loan at West Bromwich Albion, where he made just eight appearances.
Vela joined Real Sociedad on loan in the summer of 2011 and the Spanish side made the move permanent 12 months later.
"The most important part of my life came in San Sebastian: my new family," said Vela in an interview with GQ.
"I came from three years of being in London, which I couldn't adapt to. I don't know how to explain it specifically. It was a place I don't have good memories of. I wanted to get out of there.
"There [San Sebastian] I started to enjoy my football again after three such bad years of living in England."
Vela's international career
Vela made his international debut for Mexico on September 12, 2007 in a friendly match against Brazil which they lost 3-1.
His first international goal came on October 18 of that year in a friendly against Guatemala.
Vela scored for Mexico in a 2-1 friendly win over Italy eight days before they took on South Africa in the opening match of the 2010 World Cup.
At the tournament itself, Vela started Mexico's games against South Africa and France but missed the encounters with Uruguay and Argentina following an injury sustained against Les Bleus. Mexico were eliminated in the round-of-16 by Diego Maradona's Argentina.
Vela was suspended from the national team for six months in September 2010 for his involvement in a party following a match against Colombia.
He missed the 2014 World Cup, which came at a time when the relationship between him and national football bosses was strained, at best. However, he played in the 2018 tournament in Russia and scored his first World Cup goal for Mexico in a 2-1 win over South Korea.
In May 2020, Vela was reported as having declared that the 2018 World Cup had been the end of his international career.
In November 2016, Vela's Spanish girlfriend, Saioa Canibano, gave birth to his son, Romeo.
Although he makes a living playing football, Vela has been quoted as saying that he prefers basketball as a fan.
"I really like basketball, I've always said that I would one thousand times rather watch a basketball game than a soccer one," Vela told AS Mexico.
He added: "I've always liked Miami [Heat] because it's close to Cancun and I've had the opportunity to watch many of their games. But I'm a LeBron fan. Wherever he goes, I go. I'm with team LeBron all the way!"
In March 2020, it was announced by LAFC that Vela had obtained a Green Card, making him a domestic player for MLS registration purposes.
Reported net worth
Vela's precise net worth is not quite clear, but it was reported by the Los Angeles Times that he was guaranteed $6.3million in each of the first two years of his contract with LAFC, which made him one of the five highest paid players in the MLS.
The Guardian reported that when Vela signed for Real Sociedad from Arsenal in a permanent deal in 2012, a £3.5million buy-back clause was inserted into his contract. However, Sociedad were so desperate to keep Vela they paid £8.8million plus possible additional performance-related add-ons amounting to an extra £4million to remove the buy-back clause from his contract.