Despite being 34 and no longer in his prime, so to speak, Carlos Vela is reportedly close to a return with the club that saw him have immense success in his time in Europe - Real Sociedad. With his LAFC contract expiring at the end of this past MLS season, Vela is in search of a home to continue his career.
Despite rumors seeing him land in many different spots (re-sign with LAFC or another MLS club, Chivas, Cruz Azul), the version that has gained the most traction thus far is the one featuring a return to the La Liga side who currently sit in 6th overall with 32 points. Despite the club’s solid season thus far, they’ve hit a wall in ways, having drawn 4 out of their last 5 matches. That’s seen them sail farther apart from a potential Champions League spot, but still sit just 6 points out from one.
Not only are they looking to stay in the race for a CL spot for next season, but have an upcoming Round of 16 Champions League duel with PSG in February, so the addition of an experienced and skilled attacker would be highly welcomed as they prepare to face the defining second half of their season.
Now it’s no secret Vela isn’t the same player he was six years ago when he signed for the Los Angeles squad. And this past season was the clearest proof of that, coming off the bench 11 times, the most in any of his MLS seasons. He also saw a 12% decrease in minutes played (2,071) from the 2022 season despite not missing a single league match this season. The talent is definitely still there as he continued setting the tone and scoring world class goals, so you know it’s from a physcial perspective, and the fact they started to manage his minutes this year says a lot.
Turning 35 in March and a return to one of the top leagues in the world won’t help his case in terms of playing time or stats, but it will give him a chance to remind everyone why he was there in the first place and maybe just give his new club the push it needs either coming off the bench or making key spot starts. I mean the guy left Europe in his prime for crying out loud. And no insult intended for MLS clubs, but they were just no match for him. He utterly dominated the league in his time there and was always a step or two ahead of defenders. A move like this would put him back facing the best in the world to do it (where he should be) and no doubt increase game quality there.
These next days will be definitive as the transfer window in Europe has opened and teams are looking to grab a couple hot names off the market to help boost their chances for this season, and La Real would certainly do that by signing Vela.