Potential Carlos Vela Return Has Striking Transfer Value for Arsenal

James McNicholas@@jamesmcnicholasFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2014

VALENCIA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 19:  Carlos Vela of Real Sociedad reacts during the La Liga match between Valencia CF and Real Sociedad at Estadio Mestalla on October 19, 2013 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Although the season is not yet over, the media is already awash with transfer stories. Arsenal are being optimistically linked with securing the return of one prodigal son: former skipper Cesc Fabregas. According to Goal.com, the Gunners are preparing to rival Manchester United for the signature of the Catalan playmaker. 

However, another former Gunner has also been linked with a possible return: Carlos Vela. In recent quotes in the Daily Mail, the Mexican forward hinted that he could be open to a move back to London. 

The key to the move is a clause in Vela’s contract, dating back to Arsenal’s decision to sell him to Real Sociedad in 2012. Mindful of his potential, Arsene Wenger negotiated a deal whereby Arsenal could buy Vela back at any point for just €1 million more than Sociedad paid for him.

Now, speculation is mounting that Arsenal could be preparing to activate the clause. Vela himself says he is looking in to the possibility of a transfer this summer:

One possibility is my buyout clause of €30 million (£24.6 million), but there’s other options and we’re looking at that, to see what we can and can’t do.

Arsenal can come back for me at €4 million (£3.3 million) at any time, which is €1million more than Real Sociedad paid. I look at things differently these days and I won’t close the door on Arsenal, or any team in England. I think I’m better prepared to play in another country now.

Vela’s buyout clause looks steep. However, there’s no doubt that at £3.3 million he’d be an absolute steal. After his performances this season, his market value would surely be far higher.

Even in England, Vela showed he had talent. He scored a series of superb goals for Arsenal, particularly in the Carling Cup. His customary chipped finishes had the fans excited about his long-term potential. However, he never quite made the transition to first-team football and struggled with the physicality of the Premier League.

GETAFE, SPAIN - JANUARY 19: Carlos Vela (L) competes for the ball with Sergio Escudero (R) of Getafe CF during the La Liga match between Getafe SAD and Real Sociedad de Futbol at Coliseum Alfonso Perez on January 19, 2014 in Getafe, Spain.  (Photo by Gonz
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Since moving to La Liga, he has looked far more at home, scoring 45 goals in 120 appearances. In 2013/14, he has enjoyed his best season yet. According to WhoScored.com, he has racked up 15 goals and 11 assists in 35 league appearances. 

The majority of his appearances have come on the right flank, but he’s equally capable of operating on the left or through the middle. That versatility would make him attractive to Arsene Wenger, who has hinted he is looking for forwards who are capable of playing alongside as well as instead of Olivier Giroud.

The big question remains whether or not Vela could finally flourish amid the tumult of English football. He is 25 now and more mature. If he is ever going to be able to make it in England, this is the time. 

Having watched him day-in day-out in training for several years, Wenger is well-positioned to make a judgement call. However, if there’s any grey areas, he should err on the side of the purchase. At that price, Vela is a very tempting gamble.


James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.