Arsenal are reportedly set to trigger a buy-back clause in Carlos Vela's Real Sociedad contract, returning the Mexican striker to North London just two years after he permanently departed.
The potential deal was reported by Enrique Marin of Vozpopuli, reinforced by Bleacher Report UK's Sam Tighe:
The Vozpopuli report on Arsenal buying back Carlos Vela for £4m is very reliable. The author, Kike, is spot on w/ Vela stuff #AFC— Sam Tighe (@stighefootball) May 14, 2014
Vela previously joined Arsenal in 2005 but suffered limited chances throughout his Emirates tenure. Loan spells at Salamanca, Osasuna, West Brom and Real Sociedad interspersed stuttering opportunities to impress Arsene Wenger in the Gunners first team.
He has maintained impressive scoring form across three seasons with Sociedad. Vela has notched 41 in 106 La Liga appearances for the Basque club, adding 28 assists in this time, per WhoScored.com. Prior to this, he scored two Premier League goals in one start and 14 substitute appearances for Arsenal.
The 25-year-old represents something of a steal if Wenger can bring him back for as little as €4 million. Buy-back clauses are often inserted for this exact situation—as highlighted when Real Madrid re-signed Dani Carvajal for €6.5 million, per Sky Sports—providing the original sellers with an improved player who is now established on the continent.
Wenger has warned fans not to expect progress in the club's transfer activity before the World Cup, saying, "In my experience, in a World Cup year, the transfer business does not get done early," per Jack Gaughan of the Daily Mail.
Expensive names such as Real Madrid's Karim Benzema are currently linked with a move to the Emirates, per John Cross of the Daily Mirror. Wenger could use Vela as a cut-price alternative, or indeed, bring him in alongside a major name.
Benzema is likely to cost in the region of £30 million and has only scored two more goals than Vela—who doesn't receive the service of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale—across the current season. WhoScored.com highlighted the player's creative output throughout Sociedad's run to sixth in the domestic division:
Carlos Vela: Only 2 players have created more chances in La Liga this season than @11carlosV (78)— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) May 14, 2014
Forwards such as Jackson Martinez and Mario Mandzukic have also received recent links to the North London club, summarised by Jeremy Wilson of The Telegraph. Antoine Griezmann, Vela's teammate at Sociedad, is also said to have caught Arsenal's eye, per Colin Harvey of the Daily Star.
Vela's return certainly makes sense. This is an individual who knows the surroundings, staff and players. He also has plenty to prove in a Gunners shirt—a desire perhaps strengthened by his ability to perform well in Spain—and offers the kind of fast-paced passing football Wenger strives to produce.
The striker's reappearance would also add a quality goalscorer to the ranks without impacting Arsenal's finances too heavily.
Now UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules are in effect, this kind of business is sure to become more frequent at major clubs. Vela is certainly worth a punt at the reported price, as Arsenal stand to lose very little if he fails to excel during a second tenure.