Arsenal striker Carlos Vela will finish the 2010-11 England Premier League season at West Bromwich Albion. Both clubs confirmed the loan deal Friday after Vela passed a medical examination with WBA.
Since signing with Arsenal in 2008, the Mexican international has notched 11 goals and six assists in 59 matches through all competitions. Vela has struggled to find a place in the Gunners’ starting line-up amidst such emerging and explosive talents and Samir Nasri, Theo Walcott, Alex Song, and Robin Van Persie.
After completing the loan deal, WBA coach Roberto Di Matteo announced that Vela had been West Brom’s primary transfer target in the January 2011 window. Di Matteo said of the 21-year-old Aztec: “Carlos is a new attacking option for us who can play both centrally and in the wide areas.”
Di Matteo went on to praise Vela’s technical ability, though admitted that the Mexican may require time to settle in. “We have to remember he is still a young boy learning his trade and we will be giving him all the support he needs during his time here."
Despite having failed to secure substantial playing time with Arsenal in the 2010-11 season, Vela demonstrated tremendous promise with the Mexican national team in 2010 World Cup qualifying and the tournament itself.
Though he lacks the explosive forward movement and prolific goal scoring of Aztec teammate Chicharito, Vela can play as a winger, attacking midfielder, and striker. This versatility is often instrumental to the success of the Mexican side and sees Vela feeding crosses to Hernandez and others for the finish while drawing off defenders with his short, controlled dribble.
Vela’s ability to feed strikers and strike himself keeps defenders on their toes and adds an element of unpredictability to his arsenal. However, Vela has been unable to capitalize on these skills while adapting to the pace and aggression of the English game.
West Brom hopes to make the best of Vela’s multifaceted skill set. The move to a less talent-stacked team will allow the Mexican starlet to adapt more quickly to the pace of the EPL through greatly increased playing time. It will also provide him the opportunity to link up with WBA’s similarly talented forward, Peter Odemwingie. West Brom is hopeful that this pair of players will help the club avoid relegation.
For its part, Arsenal is pleased that Vela will stay in the Premier League to develop his talents. It's been well documented that Arsenal were keen for Carlos to stay in this country and the Premier League," said WBA sporting and technical director Dan Ashworth.
Wenger himself recently called the Aztec striker a “great player.” The gaffer expects that Vela will come back to the Gunners with a greater sense of the EPL style of play and more developed instincts.
The loan move is a truly win-win-win situation for Arsenal, West Bromwich Albion, and the Mexican national side.
With Chicharito flourishing under the guidance of Alex Ferguson, Salcido developing with Fulham, Dos Santos learning under the tutelage of Redknapp and Spurs, Barrera training with West Ham, Guardado gaining experience in La Liga with Deportivo La Coruña, and Vela now ready to see consistent play with WBA, the Mexican side looks to be a formidable force at World Cup 2014.
Vela is expected to return to the Mexican national side in March after a six month suspension. Both he and Efrain Juarez, currently of Celtic, were banned from the Aztec team for excessive partying following Mexico's 1-0 defeat of Columbia last September.